Alcatel-Lucent has been awarded the contract to design and build a new high-capacity submarine cable system connecting Asia with the Middle East. W ith many of the regions' largest operators financing the project , it is clear that the new cable - the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) system - will play a key role in making more bandwidth available to serve anticipated growth in mobile data traffic volumes. It will therefore be an important supplement to the operators' ongoing investments in 3.5G/4G mobile broadband networks and services.
The BBG cable will have a total length of 8,000 route kilometres and will land in Barka (Oman), Fujairah (UAE), Mumbai and Chennai (India), Ratmalana (Sri Lanka), Penang (Malaysia) and Singapore. Operating at 100Gbps, the cable will interconnect with existing systems in the region as well as cables connecting to Europe, Africa and Far East Asia. Alcatel - Lucent - which has not confirmed the value of the turnkey contract - says that the BBG cable will be operational before the end of 2014.
|Mobile Usage Spurs Cable Investment|
|Asia Pacific Mobile Data Traffic Forecast|
The commissioning of the new cable comes in the wake of the launch of 3G and 4G networks across Asia and the Middle East and the growing realisation of fixed-line and mobile operators that the volume of data being consumed via smartphones, tablet and laptop computers will quickly overwhelm the capacity of their existing infrastructure. Furthermore, some of the key international cables they currently leverage may be owned by third party providers. Building their own shared system will also enable them to reduce expenses such as capacity rental and dictate their own wholesale and retail prices for bandwidth.
The operators backing the BBG cable system are Telekom Malaysia , Vodafone Asia , Omantel , Etisalat , Reliance Jio Infocomm of India and Sri Lankan mobile operator Dialog Axiata . The importance of the new cable to fledgling 4G and augmented 3G mobile systems is highlighted by Reliance Jio Infocomm, which notes that its planned 4G network will depend on access to affordable and scalable international bandwidth in order to be competitive and profitable. As the primary Indian signatory to BBG, Reliance Jio Infocomm will also benefit from being able to offer access to the cable to its local competitors, including Bharti Airtel and IDEA Cellular .
Cisco Systems believes that mobile data traffic volumes in the Asia Pacific region will grow from 310,394 terabytes (TB) per month in 2012 to 5,256,919TB per month by 2017, representing CAGR of 76%. Only the Middle East and Africa is set to see faster growth, albeit from a much lower starting point, of 77%. But , with many more 3G/4G networks set to come on stream in the Middle East over the next five years, it is possible the growth rate may be faster than anticipated. BMI forecasts the number of 3G/4G subscribers in India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to grow by 540.4%, 265.9%, and 63.2% respectively, between 2012 and 2017 to a total of 166.9mn.