India’s government plans to roll out a new fibre-optic submarine cable linking the mainland with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to improve connectivity to the strategically important archipelago – which lies between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea – the Economic Times reports, citing a confidential note from the Planning Commission. A 1,200km subsea cable connecting Chennai and Port Blair was seen as the best approach to strengthening links to the islands, with the commission ruling out the possibility of extending a spur from any of the three existing Chennai-Singapore submarines cables in light of ‘strategic, defence and internal security interests.’ The spur approach had been favoured by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) but was dismissed on the basis that connection must ‘be designed from the perspective of strategic and long-term needs instead of more commercial viability.’ Meanwhile, a third option of establishing a link from the Puri coastline to Port Blair was rejected on the grounds of potential ‘capital cost escalation.’ The link is expected to be completed in two phases, with capital costs to be met by the Universal Services Obligation Fund (USOF).
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