By Speed Communications

Tunisie Telecom has brought digital independence to Tunisia by landing the country's first 100% African-owned subsea cable in Europe, firmly establishing itself as the leader in IT innovation in the region.  Dubbed “Hannibal”, in honour of the courageous Carthaginian general who sailed from ancient Tunisia to conquer Italy, the new cable connects North Africa to Interoute's pan European next-generation network, via Interoute's landing station in Sicily.

The state-of-the-art cable provides Tunisia with an additional route to the Sea-Me-We-4 and Keltra submarine cables, providing a far more secure and reliable international network for Tunisie Telecom. The fibre-optic cable is buried more than a metre deep using a specialist plough and remotely operated submersible vehicle, designed specifically to lay subsea cables in turbulent waters. The overall marine operation to lay the 170km cable took 68 days, with the 76 crew members staying aboard the cable-laying vessel for the entire duration.

The cable's total capacity of 3.2 Terabytes per second is more than seven times greater than that of the consortium owned SEA-ME-WE-4 cable that had been serving Tunisia previously.  This extra capacity will enhance Tunisia's IP connection capacities, ensure rapid growth of broadband services across the country and support the roll out of IP internet services across Africa, enabling Tunisia to act as the internet hub for neighbouring North African countries.

Gareth Williams, CEO of Interoute, commented: “Interoute is proud to be involved in this significant digital step for Tunisia.  It is a very exciting time for the country as it is one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in Africa. Tunisie Telecom has made significant investments in modernising its infrastructure over recent years and it has developed a cutting edge telecommunications offering. The extra capacity and resilience provided by the new cable will make Tunisia even more attractive to foreign investors looking to establish operations in the region.”

Tunisie Telecom will now be able to keep pace with the fast growing broadband penetration rate, improve the global competitiveness of its business customers and drive economic growth, as well as satisfy the current and future needs of its residential customers and provide them with a better surfing experience.

The delivery of the Tunisian cable marks Interoute's first direct partnership and connectivity into North Africa.  Interoute had already established links with East Africa earlier this year via its partnership with SEACOM.  This project connected a 17,000 kilometre intercontinental submarine fibre optic network to Interoute's pan-European fibre optic network, providing East Africa with access to major business centres in Europe and throughout the rest of the world.  This is a demonstration of Interoute's commitment to contribute to connectivity in Africa and provide equivalent services to those enjoyed by its European customers.

Interoute has been involved in a series of expansion moves during 2009, as it continues to target emerging countries as well as cementing its reach across Central, Southern and Eastern Europe, including the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Russia.

About Interoute

Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's most advanced and densely connected voice and data network, encompassing over 55,000 km of lit fibre and 59 data centres. Its full-service next generation network serves international enterprises from a broad range of sectors including aerospace, automotive, finance, pharmaceutical and retail, plus every major European incumbent, as well as the major operators of North America, East and South Asia, governments, universities and research agencies. These organisations find Interoute the ideal partner for hosting content, providing wholesale bandwidth and transit services, corporate connectivity or creating new services. With established operations throughout mainland Europe, North America and Dubai Interoute also owns and operates dense city networks throughout Europe's major business centres. More than €1 billion in e-commerce transactions flows through its data centres each day, making Interoute a key part of Europe's Digital Supply Chain. www.interoute.com

About Tunisie Télécom

Tunisie Telecom is the Tunisian's leading provider of national and international telecommunications' services and Internet. Tunisie Telecom serves approximately 8 million customers worldwide. Being a leader in the mobile telephony market in Tunisia with more than 4.3 million subscribers, Tunisie Telecom is the only fixed-line telecommunications provider in Tunisia. Tunisie Telecom, the incumbent telecom operator, is owned by the Tunisian state at 65%. The consortium of United Arab Emirates Tecom-Dig, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding owns 35% of Tunisie Telecom's capital. Tunisie Telecom operates a GSM network in Mauritania called “Mattel”.