By Submarine Cable NewsFeed

Members of the Europe-India Gateway (EIG)

submarine cable system consortium have begun issuing statements on their involvement in the project and the benefits EIG will bring to their respective countries.

Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Wohaibi said that cable would significantly enhance capacity and diversity to serve this rapidly growing region in telecommunications sector and investment environment.

Dr. Al-Wohaibi added, “Being the leading company in telecom sector in the Sultanate, and the primary mover of its infrastructure, and in order to make the Sultanate an important station with its strategic location between the East and West, Omantel decided to join other leading global telecom companies to invest in this project which will serve as an important gateway for telecommunications traffic.”

He indicated that Omantel will invest around US$50 million in the project – US$40 million Omantel will invest directly and US$10 million will be invested by BICS, a subsidiary of Belgacom.

Omantel has established a future plan to invest about US$100 million US dollars in submarine cable projects. The objective, Dr. Al-Wohaibi added, is to increase international cable capacities and provide diversity. It is also part of the company's endeavors to find more investment opportunities that would add more income during the next stage.

Omantel Chief Executive Officer added that such an international alliance would give great momentum to the company among other international companies. Several countries are investing in this project besides Omantel.

Meanwhile, Deputy CEO Networks and Technology at Omantel, Engineer Mohsin Bin Hassan Al-Raisi said that joining this vital project will give great push to Omantel in such giant projects, and allows the company to enter into an international partnership with the leading global telecom companies.

He added that Omantel seeks to make the Sultanate a main landing point for international submarine cables to add additional capacities to the Internet over the next two years and to cater for the expected growth of international communications traffic. He also indicated that Omantel exerts every effort to provide the necessary capacities for the services it offers to its subscribers.

The Deputy CEO Networks and Technology at Omantel added that the company has recently extended a submarine cable in Muscat and Khasab points. This project enabled the company to offer several services and ensured more revenues for the company during the recent cutoff of submarine cables Internet traffic when it sold Internet capacities to several international telecom companies.

He stated that Omantel has provided large capacities for global companies in the region for the passage of telecommunications traffic between the East and the West during this critical period.

Therefore, the Sultanate of Oman has become a strategic point for Internet traffic. Omantel is currently working to increase capacities for such cables in order to cope with the growing demand for the Internet from subscribers.

Meanwhile, du, the integrated telecom operator in the United Arab Emirates, announced that it would participate in EIG as well.

Its participation forms a key part of du's international strategy to position itself as a hub for regional telecommunication services. EIG also gives du the ability to provide its triple play customers with added diversity and resilience for voice, data and video services.

Explaining the need for such a strategic investment, Osman Sultan, CEO, du, said, “The project will bring resilience and diversity to du's network and position the UAE as a regional business destination with broadband capacity feeding into the country through diverse entry and exit points. The cable will be accessed through a new landing station in Fujairah and will offer an additional cable landing station into the UAE adding diversity to the existing facilities from telecoms operators in the country.”

Commenting on the benefits of the international partnership, Andrew Grenville, EVP International & wholesale, said, “This next generation fiber-optic cable agreement underscores our commitment to becoming the telecom partner of choice. There is a world-wide growing demand for international capacity and EIG will meet the high bandwidth requirement and provide diversity for our traffic to Europe and the Indian subcontinent which are key destinations for our voice and data traffic.”

EIG is a new 15,000-kilometer (9,000-mile) submarine cable system that will connect 13 countries including on three continents. Landings of the submarine cable are planned in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, Monaco, France, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, the Sultanate of 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 EIG cable system is expected to carry commercial traffic in 2nd quarter of 2010.

The EIG cable system also will complement existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, providing much-needed diversity for broadband traffic currently relying largely on traditional routes from Europe to India. This is important from a disaster recovery point of view. 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.

Other global operators that are part of the consortium are AT&T; Bharti Airtel; BT; C&W; Djibouti Telecom; du, Gibtelecom; IAM (Maroc Telecom); 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.