Bharti and SingTel celebrate completion of i2i cable network

The Bharti Group of India and Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) have just marked the completion of the i2i cable network, the world's largest in terms of capacity, as well as the first private cable to link India and Singapore.

The 3,200-km i2i cable lands in Chennai in India and Tuas in Singapore. It has been developed by Network i2i, a 50:50 joint venture between Bharti and SingTel, at a cost of US$250 million. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects between Indian and Singaporean companies.

Utilising the latest Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing technology, the 8.4 terabits cable system can support 130 million Internet dial-up connections simultaneously. Construction of the i2i cable network began in late 2000 and it will begin to carry commercial traffic within the next four weeks. 

Speaking on this president and CEO of SingTel Lee Shine Yang said: "The i2i cable network is a product of SingTel's successful collaboration with Bharti. The cable is linked to SingTel's extensive network in the Asia Pacific and will enhance telecommunications connectivity between the Indian sub-continent and East Asia."

The cable will support Bharti's introduction of IDD services, another important step in Bharti's vision to be a leading telecommunications service provider in India." 

Chairman and Group MDirector of Bharti Enterprises Sunil Mittal said, " The cable will create huge bandwidth capacities that will help in making the Indian business environment increase productivity and fuel economic growth."

The domestic and international long distance markets in India were liberalised on 1 April 2002. Network i2i expects this development to stimulate demand for telecommunications services.

CEO Network i2i Ng Seng Sum said: "The Indian telecommunications industry has enjoyed some of the highest growth rates in Asia in recent years.The relatively low penetration rates for fixed-line and cellular services offer significant potential for growth. Continued economic development and increasing use of information technology and the Internet will fuel demand for international bandwidth."

Lee and Mittal also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), on behalf of SingTel and Bharti respectively, to extend the partnership between the two companies.

As part of the MOU, SingTel and Bharti will study the possible enhancement of the i2i cable network to other parts of Asia, including the Middle East and Europe. This can be achieved either through new infrastructure or acquisition of capacity on other cable systems. 

The two parties will also develop joint programmes to market the i2i cable and, in support of market liberalisation in India and Singapore, enable open and non-exclusive access to the cable for all carriers in the two countries. 

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.

Bharti Tele-Ventures, a company promoted by Bharti Telecom, is India's leading private sector provider of telecommunications services based on an aggregate of approximately 1,553,822 customers comprising Internet, National Long Distance and about 1,274,846 cellular customers (as at 28 February 2002).

Cellular services currently constitute the largest portion of its business in terms of total revenues. 

SingTel claims to be Asia's leading communications company with a comprehensive portfolio of services that include voice and data services over fixed, wireless and Internet platforms. 

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