India, Singapore tie up with i2i cable

Indian telecommunications carrier Bharti Group and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) have finished building their joint US$250 million i2i cable connecting the two countries. The cable will enter commercial service within the next four weeks, SingTel said in a statement late Monday.

The 3,200-kilometer cable, which is the world’s highest-capacity fibre-optic link at 8.4T bits per secon, was inaugurated Monday by the respective prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Goh Chok Tong of Singapore. The cable is owned by Network i2i, a 50/50 joint venture between Bharti and SingTel.

Inauguration of the i2i cable comes one week after the deregulation of India’s domestic and international long distance markets on April 1. Bharti will use the i2i cable to enter India’s international long distance services market, according to the statement.

The cable, which uses DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) technology to increase capacity, currently links Singapore and Chennai (formerly known as Madras) and will be extended to Mumbai (formerly Bombay).

The cable links to SingTel’s network in the Asia-Pacific region, and the companies will consider linking the i2i cable network to other parts of Asia, plus the Middle East and Europe, either through new infrastructure or acquisition of capacity on other cable systems, SingTel said.

Singapore and India have been steadily increasing their cooperation as the two parties have complementary advantages, according to Singapore prime minister Goh. Singapore has good infrastructure and access to advanced technologies while India has a large pool of skilled manpower and a large potential consumer market, Goh said at an India-Singapore business forum held jointly with the i2i launch.

“Singapore is a compact, industrialized city-state. Our economic strategy is to promote high value-added manufacturing sectors like semiconductors, sophisticated electronic components, and services sectors like telecommunications, life sciences, healthcare and education,” he said. “In many of these high-value areas, India and Singapore can forge mutually beneficial partnerships.”

SingTel has invested $650 million in the Bharti Group and presently has an effective stake of 28.5 per cent in Bharti Tele-Ventures, the listed vehicle of the group. This represents SingTel’s third-largest overseas venture after its investments in Australian carrier Optus and in Indonesian cellular company PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel).