Flag Telecom enters deal with Qatar's Qtel

MUMBAI: Reliance-owned Flag Telecom will now be present in Qatar, as the company has signed a deal with the country's national telecom operator Qtel to provide high speed broadband services. As per the agreement, Qtel will provide a full landing station for Flag Telecom's Falcon cable system in Doha and purchase of capacity on the new regional terabit/s cable system.

The deal follows similar agreements with Oman, Egypt, Bahrain, India and Kuwait. Once in service, Falcon will enable Qatar and Qtel to provide high-quality, direct international connectivity from Doha to the global business centres around the world, supporting the roll-out of advanced broadband services throughout the country, informs a company release.

Falcon, a new high-capacity resilient loop cable system will provide multiple landings throughout the Gulf region, with submarine links stretching from the Middle East to Egypt in the west and, initially, to India in the east. Across India the Falcon system can interconnect seamlessly with India's domestic networks, including Reliance's 80,000 km high-speed domestic infrastructure, allowing customers to access major cities and towns.

The capacity purchase will provide a many-fold increase in resilient international circuits into and out of Qatar and - for the first time - offer loop protection within the Gulf region. These circuits are expected to allow Qtel to compete favourably with other regional operators as they seek to establish pan-Regional activities and investment in overseas markets, the release adds.

Qtel CEO Dr Nasser Marafih said: 'This significant investment represents a tremendous strategic step by Qtel and will greatly help us meet our stated aim of providing Qatar with the necessary infrastructure to meet the growing demands of our customers for fast internet access and value-added IP services. Our aim is to deliver cost-effective broadband services to every home and business throughout the country and Falcon will additionally provide us with direct, resilient, high-quality capacity between Qatar and the rest of the world. Looking to the future and the Asia Games in 2006, we are already planning that the new uninterrupted, high-quality circuits on Falcon will enable Qtel to meet the extremely robust requirements of the global media and information agencies as images are carried to global television audiences."

Flag Telecom president Middle East & Africa Walid Irshaid said: "The deal underscores the regional importance of the reliable, terabit connectivity to and from the major business centres around the world. Falcon will bring a many-fold increase in capacity than existing regional links, and will enable Qtel to confidently roll out advanced broadband services. We look forward to gathering again to celebrate the inauguration of the Falcon landing station early next year."

The Falcon system incorporates the Gulf region's first self-healing submarine network ring, providing all countries connected to the high capacity cable with extremely reliable, high quality connectivity. It underlines the growing optimism in today's telecommunications marketplace and provides the backbone to deliver advanced broadband services throughout the Middle East, Egypt and India, which have been traditionally underserved with high-capacity broadband connectivity. Branching units have been added along the entire Falcon cable route to allow additional countries to connect to the system as their communications needs continue to expand.

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