Indian telcos Bharti Tele-Ventures and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) have launched the Indian section of the next-generation undersea cable system, SouthEastAsia-MiddleEast-WesternEurope-4 (SEA-ME-WE-4), which was officially inaugurated in Dubai on 13 December. The 20,000km fibre-optic network, costing USD500 million, spans from Singapore to France, connecting countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia and Algeria. It is owned by a consortium of 16 international telecoms operators: Algeria Telecom, VSNL, Bharti, BTTB (Bangladesh), CAT Telecom (Thailand), Etisalat (UAE), France Télécom, MCI (US), PTCL (Pakistan), Singapore Telecom (SingTel), Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), Saudi Telecom Company, Telecom Egypt, Telecom Italia, Telekom Malaysia and Tunisia Telecom. In addition to running a network operating centre in Mumbai, VSNL is acting as the SEA-ME-WE-4 network administrator.
VSNL’s international bandwidth assets include the Tata Indicom Cable connecting India and Singapore, and the Tyco Global Network (TGN); it owns capacity on several other cable systems. SEA-ME-WE-4 is the second major international initiative by Bharti in the international data and broadband sectors, following its Network i2i cable tie-up with SingTel. Along with the existing i2i cable, with bandwidth of up to 8.4 terabits per second, SEA-ME-WE-4 doubles the data capacity of Bharti by adding another 160 billion bits per second of capacity.