By Submarine Cable NewsFeed

A consortium of 16 companies has announced plans to build a next-generation undersea optical cable system connecting Europe, the Middle East and India.

The 16 telecommunications companies investing in the project are AT&T; Bharti Airtel; BT; C&W; Djibouti Telecom; Du; Gibtelecom; IAM; Libyan Post, Telecom and Information Technology Company; MTN Group Ltd; Omantel; PT Comunicações, S.A.; Saudi Telecom Company; Telecom Egypt; Telkom SA Ltd; and Verizon Business.

The EIG cable system, targeted to be operational in second quarter of 2010, is a 15,000-kilometer (9,000-mile) system that will connect 13 countries and three continents. Landings are planned in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, Monaco, France, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and India. In addition to serving these regions, the EIG cable system will also provide seamless interconnection with other major cable systems connecting Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. The system will utilize state-of-art next generation technology that is designed to provide up to 3.84 Tbps using dense-wavelength-division-multiplexing (DWDM) to

provide upgradeable transmission facilities that support Internet, e-commerce, video, data and voice.

In a statement released by Verizon Business, the company said that the new system, named the Europe India Gateway (EIG), is the third major submarine cable project Verizon Business has helped launch in the last four years and continues the company's global network leadership in delivering more capacity, reliability and speed for the data, video and voice services of its multinational customers.

“This new cable system will provide not only a second, diverse route from India to Europe, but also direct access to our network in Europe,” said Ihab Tarazi, Verizon Business vice president of global network planning. “Combined with our other network capabilities, we will offer our customers reduced latency (the time it takes data sent from its entry point in the network to reach its destination), reduced provisioning time and increased reliability.”

Verizon Business is a leader in developing undersea cable systems. The company is the only U.S.-based founding member of the Trans-Pacific Express Cable, which will provide the first high-speed direct link between the U.S. and Mainland China when activated in July. Verizon Business also is the only founding U.S. partner in an existing Southeast Asia-to-Europe (via the Indian subcontinent) submarine cable called SEA-ME-WE-4 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4).

The EIG will give Verizon Business customers a second, diverse landing in France. As with SEA-ME-WE-4, Verizon Business will operate a landing station in Marseilles that will connect directly with the company's recently expanded ultra-long-haul network in Europe.

With the addition of the EIG, Verizon Business also plans to extend its industry-leading global mesh architecture to the Middle East and India. Meshing is network design that connects undersea cable systems on land, allowing for instantaneous rerouting of traffic in the event of multiple undersea cable breaks. Currently, the company operates a seven-way diverse mesh network between the U.S. and Europe and five-way diversity between the U.S. and Japan, with expansion to seven-way diversity to Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan planned for the second half of 2008.

Verizon Business continues to expand its partnerships and presence in the Middle East and India. Verizon Business earlier this year received licenses for international and national long-distance services in India and will offer a full range of services including international private-leased circuits with multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and Internet protocol (IP) services. The company already holds an Internet service provider license in India.

“As the world's leading companies grow their presence in emerging market regions, they know they can rely on our leading global network to support their critical business applications,” said Tarazi. “Wherever they do business in the world, our customers know they can count on us to use our outstanding network capabilities to deliver business solutions.”

Verizon Business owns and operates a global fiber-optic network that spans six continents and has more than 485,000 route miles delivering services to customers in more than 150 countries and 2,700 cities throughout the world. The company is involved in more than 67 submarine cables worldwide.

In a statement released by Telecom Egypt, the carrier announced that major leaders of the global telecommunications industry have signed a formal Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) to build the first direct, high-bandwidth optical-fiber submarine cable system from the United Kingdom to India. The Europe India Gateway (EIG) cable system, which will cost close to US$700 million, will significantly enhance capacity and diversity between the countries of these regions.

In addition to complementing existing high bandwidth cable systems in the region, the EIG cable system will provide much needed diversity for broadband traffic currently relying largely on traditional routes from Europe to India. This is important considering the threat of earthquakes in this region. The EIG cable system, with its large bandwidth and high quality transmission technology, will help meet the present and future growth in telecommunications traffic between the targeted regions.

In addition to the C&MA signing, the EIG Consortium also signed a supply contract with Alcatel-Lucent and Tyco Telecommunications for the cable system's construction, according to the release issued by Telecom Egypt.