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United Arab Emirates launches submarine fiber optic network

By Donna Donowitz
January 3, 2011
Fiber optic cable networks are emerging around the world. The United Arab Emirates is the latest country to see major fiber optic development. Etisalat, a UAE-based telecommunications company, recently joined a team of nine major telecommunications operators to build a 13,000 kilometer, high-capacity submarine fiber optic cable network that will stretch from India to Europe. The cable was finally activated recently, giving the UAE a significant improvement to its international connectivity.

The India-Middle East-western Europe will stretch through the middle east to connect its two sides. The cables will be laid underwater in a project that will cost the consortium $500 million.

"The extra capacity and reliability provided by the IMEWE cable will be responding to substantial growth in capacity requirements due to a surge in broadband demand witnessed by the region," said Ali Amiri, the executive vice president of Etisalat's carrier and wholesale services division. “Our participation in the IMEWE is an example of this vision taken from and we expect to see great results in terms of both the performance of our network and an enhanced customer experience."

Other companies involved in supporting the network include Bharti Airtel, France Telecon, Saudi Telecom Company, Telecom Italia and Tata Communications.

The IMEWE cable is expected to have a design capacity of 3.8 terabits per second, which is the equivalent of transferring 836 DVD movies per second.

According to the National, submarine telecommunications cables are the backbone of the internet. The cables are about the width of a pen and transmit most of the world’s intetnet and telephone data. The cables have a lifespan of about 20 years.

The new network comes about nine months after the UAE experienced a significant internet outage. A fiber optic cable in the Mediterranean sea was severed, significantly slowing internet access for many UAE residents and businesses for the two weeks it took to repair the damage.

The network is not the only major telecommunications project in the area. Seven other Middle Eastern telecoms recently announced plans to collaborate on a major fiber optic network. The project, called the Regional Cable Network, will lay 7,750 kilometers of fiber optic cable between the UAE and Turkey. Like the IMEWE network, the Regional Cable Network will also connect to Europe.


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