By Alex Ritman
The UAE, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are to be linked up by a new fibre-optic submarine cable, the first of it kind to land in Iraq.
The three national telecoms operators of the UAE, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have come together to begin the laying of a submarine cable connecting the three nations. Etisalat, Iraqi Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC) and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) signed a Construction and Maintenance Agreement that will see the installation of FOG2, the second generation of the Fibre-Optic Gulf (FOG) cables.
The FOG2 terabit capacity system, initially equipped with 80 Gbps capacity over two fibre-pairs, is the first ever fibre-optic submarine cable to land in Iraq. It will initially connect Fujeirah in the UAE, the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia and Um-Qasr in the Al Basra province of Iraq, and stretches approximately 1500 kilometres. Extensions to potential new participants in the project across the Gulf could extend the total length to around 2200 kilometres.
The tender is currently out for the project, with the system expected to be operational by the end of 2006.
Mohammad Omran, the chairman and CEO of Etisalat, is positive about the benefits FOG2 will bring to Iraq. “This submarine cable provides for high-capacity international telecommunications options using fibre-optics, enabling Iraq to be connected internationally efficiently and effectively.”
Etisalat and STC have also united over SEA-ME-WE 4, another submarine cable connecting France to Singapore via the Middle East, which was inaugerated in December 2005.