By Submarine Cable NewsFeed

Nine major international carriers have

signed a formal Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) in Rome to build a high-capacity fiber-optic submarine cable that stretches from India to France

via the Middle East. The cable system, known as I-ME-WE (India-Middle East-Western Europe), is the fifth in the series of similar cable systems that includes the

SEA-ME-WE series.

The nine carriers that make up the I-ME-WE consortium are Bharti Airtel (India), Etisalat (UAE), France Telecom (France), Ogero (Lebanon),

PTCL (Pakistan), STC (Saudi Arabia), TE (Egypt), Telecom Italia Sparkle (Italy) and VSNL (India).

The I-ME-WE cable system is designed to provide 3.84

terabits per second and covers a distance of almost 14,000 kilometers, extending from India right up to France. The cable system is likely to be available for

service by late 2009. Once complete, it shall meet the ever-growing capacity requirement of Asia, Middle East and Europe besides satisfying the capacity needs of

USA to these regions as well.

Mr. Rajan Swaroop, Executive Director-Global Network Services, Airtel Enterprise Services said, “Our partnership in I-ME-WE

cable system reinforces our commitment to invest in state of the art technologies for providing scalable and future proof solutions for our International customers.

This investment is in line with our strategy to extend our International footprint and focus on connecting our customers in India to the Middle East and Europe.

While our existing i2i and SEA-ME-WE-4 cable systems already provide connectivity across the globe, the I-ME-WE cable system will help offer increased redundancy

and resilient networks, while meeting the increasing demands of voice, private data and Internet traffic. This partnership will also play a key role in our endeavor

to provide alternate routes for meeting the bandwidth requirements of our customers at any given time.”

The I-ME-WE cable system will compliment Bharti

Airtel's existing high bandwidth cable systems in the region. The company has two international landing stations in Chennai that connects two submarine cable

systems – i2i to Singapore and SEA-ME-WE-4 to Europe. Bharti Airtel has also recently partnered the Asia America Gateway cable system to provide the much-needed

diversity against traditional routes to the US, mainly carrying broadband traffic.