Lebanon’s Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) and Cypriot operator Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) have entered into an agreement to share capacity on Cyta’s Alexandros international submarine cable subsystem linking Cyprus–Egypt–France, under which the MoT will acquire 24% of the cable’s capacity. Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui made the announcement on Friday after signing an agreement with the Cypriot telco’s Cyta Global international connectivity division, and declared that the new capacity acquisition would allow Lebanon to use an additional 700Gbps bandwidth to add to the 200Gbps currently accessed via the I-ME-WE cable. Sehnaoui said he expected internet rates in Lebanon to drop and access speeds to increase following the purchase of Alexandros capacity by the MoT, which controls Lebanon’s monopoly fixed line telco Ogero. As quoted by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star, he added: ‘This acquisition is crucial to attract international companies to invest in the telecoms sector in Lebanon and this will enable us to become a regional telecoms hub,’ and continued that the ministry will now be able to lower [Ogero’s wholesale] prices of E1 for internet providers and that this will eventually induce these companies to reduce DSL rates for subscribers. He also said a special package for heavy internet users would be announced ‘soon’, while also stating that the latest capacity enhancements will support the ‘next step’ to move to higher speed fibre-optic (FTTx) access services.
The MoT and Cyta also signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of the Europa system, a new high-capacity undersea cable linking Cyprus and Lebanon, which is expected to be ready for service by 2015 or earlier. Europa is intended to initially provide a high quality alternative route to the existing Cadmos Lebanon-Cyprus cable, and eventually completely replace the older system, while also forming a bridge between the I-ME-WE cable landing in Lebanon and the Alexandros subsystem landing in Cyprus. A press release said that Europa will provide a new resilient cable route to European destinations and beyond, enhancing connectivity between Europe and the Middle East.