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French Version

Underwater cable links Iraq to Gulf

Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (ETISALAT), Iraqi Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC) and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) have laid down a submarine cable connecting the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and Iraq after signing the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA).

This follows a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the three telecom operators in June 2005. FOG2 is the second generation of the Fibre-Optic Gulf (FOG) cables and upon this terabit capacity system, initially equipped with 80 Gbps capacity over two fibre-pairs, will enable its participants to meet their growing requirements for internet, data, voice and other broadband applications via its connectivity to the Gulf as well as the rest of the world. This is the first ever fibre-optic submarine cable landing in Iraq, according to a press release.

"The cable will initially link Fujeirah - U.A.E., Eastern coast - Saudi Arabia and Um-Qasr (Al-Basra Province) Iraq with a length of approximately 1500 kms, and with extensions to potential new participants from other Gulf countries, the total length could be approximately 2200 kms." The project for construction is currently being tendered and it is expected that the system will become operational by the end of 2006.

Mohammad Hassan Omran, Chairman and CEO of Etisalat, said: "We are extremely pleased to be a key participant of this cable system, and we are sure that Iraq and all other countries will benefit from this link. This submarine cable provides for high-capacity international telecommunications options using fibre-optics, enabling Iraq to be connected internationally efficiently and effectively."

Khalid al-Molhem of STC, commented, "FOG2 is viewed as a strategic complement to STC's stake in the newly constructed SEA-ME-WE 4 cable system with its full landing at Jeddah. With the new landing station in the kingdom's Eastern coast, FOG2 will not only provide STC with additional connectivity to its neighboring countries, but will also offer important diversity for STC's significant bandwidth requirements in the coming years."

Molhem added, "I believe that similar to SEA-ME-WE 4, the traditional consortium approach taken for FOG2 is very effective and will be more attractive for consumers of bandwidth when compared with any other alternative." Molhem concluded by warmly welcoming Iraq as a key participant in this important project.

Khazzal Hassan Mahdi, director general of ITPC said: "We're happy to be part of the team laying a new cable in the gulf, which will bring international connectivity to Iraq, and aid in modernizing the Iraqi network and make sure Iraq has a cheaper and more efficient system than what is available today."

Etisalat and STC have also partnered in the recently-commissioned international high-capacity SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable connecting France to Singapore.

Amman,01 16 2006
The Daily Star
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