Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has heralded the upcoming South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 5 (SEA-ME-WE 5) submarine cable system as a ‘giant step’ towards achieving Sri Lanka’s ‘SMART 2020’ digital society goals. SLT released a media statement in the wake of the recent news that contractors Alcatel Submarine Networks and NEC have begun deploying the 20,000km cable linking 17 countries, developed with 100Gbps technology and a capacity of at least 24Tbps on 3-fibre pairs to ‘provide the lowest latency and represent an additional network layer of diversity and resilience for the heavy loaded Asia to Europe route.’ Set to enter service in 2016, SEA-ME-WE 5 has a landing point located at Matara, Sri Lanka, which will be operated by SLT as a member of the cable’s international consortium of 14 telcos.
SLT’s CEO Lalith De Silva expressed his support for the project, saying: ‘The gigantic capacity derived through this new cable system [will] facilitate the exponential growth in demand for data both locally and internationally and thereby [will] enable Sri Lanka to leverage on its strategic geographical location … It will definitely accelerate the move towards an inclusive digital economy.’ The telco stated that its investment in the cable will help prepare Sri Lanka to ‘take on the envisaged data explosion,’ and noted that Sri Lanka being given ‘full landing’ status by the SEA-ME-WE 5 consortium will ‘pave the way to establish a global PoP [point of presence] in Sri Lanka in the future,’ while making the island a ‘preferred destination’ in the region for data centre operations. Furthermore, the release highlighted that the Matara landing station facilitates double landing; thereby enhancing the reliability of Sri Lanka’s connectivity to the system. At present, SLT connects to the rest of the world via the consortium SEA-ME-WE 3 and SEA-ME-WE 4 cables (the latter being upgraded with 100Gbps technology this year) as well as two private cables to India and the Maldives.