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Middle Eastern telecoms collaborate on fiber optic cable network

By Max Burkhalter
December 20, 2010
The appeal of fiber optic cable knows no bounds or borders. Countries around the world are clamoring to build high-speed broadband internet networks, those in the Middle East included. Recently, seven telecommunications operators from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria met to announce plans to build a fiber optic network that would be the longest terrestrial communications infrastructure in the Middle East.

The Regional Cable Network project will lay 7,750 kilometers of fiber optic cable between Fujairah, UAE to Instanbul, Turkey. The nework will also connect to Europe. According to, Fujairah is one of the busiest nodes for submarine and fiber cables.

The seven companies signed onto the project at a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey. The event was attended by Binalo Yildirim, Turkey’s minister of transport and communications, RCN’s interim consortium chairman Ali Amiri and CEOs from the seven telecom operators.

The companies are optimistic that the network will provide great advances for the area.

“Our participation in the regional cable network comes as part of our commitment to contribute to the regional and global connectivity by expanding the reach of our robust, reliable and trusted Saudi National fiber optic Network,” said Abdulaziz Altamami, COO of Mobily, one of the telecom operators to sign on to the project.

According to, Turkcell CEO Süreyya Ciliv said his company was satisfied with the joining of forces and that the organizations are “intent on technological leadership” in the region. “This will enable still wider internet expansion as internet use will become even faster throughout the region,” he said. “We are building an internet highway between Fujairah and Istanbul.”

Ciliv also called the network the “Middle East’s internet gateway to Europe,” saying it would allow Istanbul to become the world’s “newest internet database” thanks to its location between Europe and Asia. “We, the Turkcell Group, are proud to be making such a beneficial investment for Istanbul, for Turkey, and for the region changing lives by offering users an enhanced communications experience,” he said.

The RCN’s infrastructure will be capable of carrying data at 12.8 terabits per second. Routes will initially be able to carry data at 2.4 TB per second. All told, the fiber optic network represents an investment of approximately half a billion dollars. It is expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2011.


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