By The Guardian

Although it has only been nine years since Gibraltar finally gained acceptance of its own international telephone code, the jurisdiction is fast becoming a serious player on the international communications scene

Almost 150 years ago, Gibraltar became a landing station for the very first transcontinental telegraph cable, which went underwater and overland from England all the way to India and, finally, Australia. Today, amid great determination from business and governmental leaders to make the Rock a leader in ICT, telecommunications and data services, Gibraltar is yet again making its mark internationally.

The key breakthrough came in September 2006, when Spain finally recognised Gibraltar’s international direct dialling code (+350). This allowed the jurisdiction to expand its telephone numbering plan and develop international roaming synergies. These internationally-recognised digits also made Gibraltar’s ICT sector more attractive to investors, and the two established internet providers, Gibtelecom and Sapphire Networks, swiftly found themselves joined in the space by two other firms, which obtained broadband licences in 2013, spurring yet another wave of innovation.

Yet more investor buzz has been generated by Gibtelecom’s focus on internationalisation. Here, history seems to be repeating itself: in a modern-day reincarnation of that grand submarine telegraph project, the firm has obtained a four-percent stake in the Europe India Gateway (EIG) consortium, an $800 million project linking the UK and India via 15,000km of high-bandwidth fibre optic submarine cable.

With numerous landing stations along the route, and demand for data services between Europe and Asia set to rise by almost 40 percent annually over the next five years, Gibtelecom’s participation will also allow it to sell excess capacity to other carriers internationally, and to diversify its networks. Complementing the existing land cable routes through Spain, the cable makes Gibraltar’s data transfer reliability even stronger than before – a major boon for the e-gaming and financial services firms who have made the Rock their home and who rely on always-on internet in order to do business.

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