Omantel, Xtera join effort to build Gulf to Africa cable system

G2A will begin operating in late 2016.

Omantel and Xtera Communications Inc. announced a supply agreement last week that will result in the construction of the Gulf to Africa (G2A) system, a new submarine cable system connecting Oman, Puntland and Somaliland. 

Omantel, the national operator of Oman and the top wholesale carrier in the Middle East, and Xtera Communications, a principal supplier of high-capacity, financially practical solutions for the transportation industry, said the G2A system will better the connectivity costs in Africa and add capacity to an underserved and quickly expanding region. The cable will be built by a partnership involving Golis Telecom, Telesom Company and Ethio Telecom.

"Today we are mainly relying on satellite communication for our Internet needs; G2A will dramatically change the end-user experience and enable new types of low-latency services both for the residential and corporate sectors," Golis Chairman Abdulaziz Gureye Karshe said.

G2A will be a direct highway from Salalah in Oman to Bosaso in Puntland and Berbera in Somaliland, and will offer global connection to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. 

"This is the first step on our expansion journey into Africa where we will go from Oman directly to Somalia and then extend the cable further into Africa to Ethiopia," Omantel Wholesale Vice President Sohail Qadir said. "These two highly underserved countries will soon be connected to our international low-latency network, gain access to all the content hosted in Oman with Omantel and consume services from Europe and Southeast Asia."

The deal requires Xtera to provide its turnkey 100G/100G+ submarine cable system solution for the completion of the project, including subsea optical repeaters, Nu-Wave Optima Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE), cable and all marine services. Xtera's subsea repeaters, designed around numerous electrical, optical and mechanical innovations, use Raman optical amplification to create barely audible noise levels for maximal repeater spacing and offer wide spectrum for higher system capacity.

"We are extremely pleased to be selected by the G2A consortium to build this new submarine cable system as a further validation of our turnkey offering of high-performance, high-reliability cable systems based on our innovative repeater," Xtera President and CEO Jon Hopper said. "This new build project is a perfect illustration of Xtera's innovative, flexible solutions for deploying new subsea infrastructure or upgrading existing cable assets under water."

G2A will be an active cable system designed with the goal of bringing end-users in Africa closer to content and supplying Somalia and Ethiopia with valuable Internet capability and access to global cloud use. The subsea portion will operate from Salalah, Oman, to both Bosaso in Somalia and Berbera in Somaliland. From Salalah, a land route through Oman will interlock with all of Omantel's nine submarine cable systems. 

A major benefit to this connection is many of Omantel’s existing cables are the largest in the world connecting the Middle East with the Far East, Europe and North America. In addition, Omantel offers a wide variety of content and cloud providers in Oman providing service for the Middle East region from their central hubs in Oman. The content and cloud providers will be available to the G2A system.

"This is a fascinating project, first of its kind, where we will benefit from Omantel's international network stretching around the globe to bring tremendous change in the region as access to high quality and affordable Internet services affects all aspects of peoples' lives and their way of thinking," Telesom CEO Abdikarim Mohamed Eid said. "At the same time, we will gain access to the main Internet hubs in the world; the countries on Omantel's international network will become available through G2A to serve enterprise customers in eastern Africa."

G2A will begin operating in late 2016.

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