Omantel becomes the first GCC telecommunication provider to lay submarine cable system in Europe

Sohail Qadir, vice president of Omantel's Wholesale Business Unit
Sohail Qadir, vice president of Omantel's Wholesale Business Unit

Adding more diversity and capacity to the communication traffic on the route between Asia and Europe, Omantel successfully laid the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) submarine cable system in Marseille, France. 

With the deployment of this project, which took a year and a half to complete, Omantel becomes the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) telecommunication provider to lay a submarine cable system in mainland Europe.

The AAE-1 submarine cable, spanning approximately 15,500 miles, is one of the first unique cable networks to connect Hong Kong to Singapore, Africa and Europe through Oman. This next-generation subsea cable, which bridges both the major Asian gateways of Hong Kong and Singapore with multiple onward connectivity options in Europe, deploys 100 Gbps transmission technology with a minimum design capacity of 40 terabits.

“The AAE-1 needed an operator in France to land the cable in Marseille in an open data center, and Omantel, as part of its expansion plans, took the challenge,” Sohail Qadir, vice president of Omantel's Wholesale Business Unit, told Gulf News Journal. “We knew that it would be tough to set up a company and get all the needed licenses and land the cable in a year and a half. We chose the right people and the right partners who with their persistence, enthusiasm and professionalism made this happen. Now with this landing, more than half the population of the world will have better commercial and technical accessibility to the internet.”

Omantel, the most prominent telecommunication provider in Oman, is a consortium member of AAE-1 cable, as this is an ambitious project to provide its customers a better surfing experience. Omantel also aimed at optimizing its costs and expanding its wholesale market.

Qadir said this undersea cable system will be the first consortium submarine cable in mainland Europe that lands in a data center and at the same time is open to everyone. It will have a total capacity of 40 Tbps, which represents around twice as much the total current capacity used on this route. 

“Doing business internationally is always a challenge, and this challenge becomes more difficult if there are language barriers and additional administration processes,” Qadir said. “The administrative bodies of Marseille were very helpful in providing information about the regulations, the constraints for building an infrastructure in Marseille and also by providing us the right support to find local partners.”

One of the distinctive features of AAE-1 is that it terminates at two points of presence (POP)s in Singapore, one POP in Hong Kong and two open POPs in Marseille. This routing enables AAE-1 to have one of the lowest latencies between Hong Kong, India, the Middle-East and Europe while covering close to 50 percent of the world's population.

“GCC operators are becoming more and more present as international players, and Oman is becoming a connectivity hub between Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Qadir said. “With this project, we wanted to show that we are courageous enough to take up adventures outside our comfort zone and that we can succeed in them. It is only the start of a set of ambitious projects we aim to implement shortly.”

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