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Middle East telecoms consortium to build new high-bandwidth cable system

/ 1 October, 2013

TUNNEL ELECTRICITYA GCC-wide telecoms consortium has been formed to build a high-bandwidth regional transmission cable system for the region, it was announced on Monday.

The new system, which promises to provide broadband to new areas and customers, will be called the Middle East-Europe Terrestrial System (MEETS), and it the result of a partnership between du, Vodafone, Zain and Zajil, four of the region’s biggest telecoms operators.

du will be the landing party in the UAE, while Vodafone will be in Qatar, Zain in Saudi Arabia, and Zajil in Bahrain and Kuwait. A 100G optical transport network (OTN) will be built on top of a 1,400km terrestrial fibre optic cable to sustain the growing bandwidth demand of the region, the four companies said.

The consortium added that the system will be designed to be an economically and technically competitive alternative for connectivity within the Gulf, as it will enable a terrestrial route to Europe for reduced latency and higher reliability. Carriers will be able to access MEETS from the Fujairah Landing Station or at the carrier-neutral hub, datamena.

At a press conference announcing the project, Scott Gegenheimer, Group CEO, Zain Group, said, “Through the creation of MEETS, we will bring a higher quality of data connectivity and content to our customers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Providing an unsurpassed internet experience will help Zain to retain and attract new customers as well as complement our LTE 4G expansion strategy and support our planned roll-out of dynamic Enterprise services to corporate clients.”

Kyle Whitehill, CEO, Vodafone Qatar, echoed that statement, saying, “This exciting new development is a significant part of Vodafone’s growing commitment to the Middle East region. The UAE is a natural hub for Vodafone operating companies in Asia, Africa and Europe to exchange traffic with each other and partners. We are also pleased to be able to enhance Qatar’s global connectivity in this way, in support of the National Vision 2030.”

MEETS will have an initial capacity of 200Gbps and be carried over an Optical Ground Wire associated with a regional high-tension electricity network – reducing the risk of cable cuts. The system will be managed by a 24/7 Network Operating Centre (NOC).