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Regional telcos to invest $500m in cable system

Overland cable system to connect Middle East with Europe set to go live in Q2 2011

Regional telcos to invest $500m in cable system
The cable system will connect the Middle East to Turkey and is expected to be operational in Q2 2011.

Telecom operators from Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria have agreed to build a $500 million, 7,750km land-based fibre optic cable system, connecting the Middle East to Europe, via Turkey.

The project, which is known as RCN, is backed by Turkcell, Mobily, Etisalat, Jordan Telecom Group, Mada Group, Syrian Telecommunications Establishment, and Superonline, a subsidiary of Turkcell.

The cable, which is expected to cover the entire Gulf region in the Middle East for the first time, is due to go live in the second half of 2011.

The cable will extend from Fujairah, UAE, to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria before reaching Istanbul, Turkey.

The cable system, which will eventually have a data carrying capacity of 12.8 terabits per second, will offer connectivity to Europe through more than 15 access points available on the Bulgarian and Greek borders of Turkey. It will offer data backhaul for some 2 billion people.

The RCN project offers the region an alternative internet infrastructure and is "diversified" into two separate routes, according to a statement from Turcell. When the cable first becomes operational, 2.4 terabit per second of capacity will be activated along the two different routes.

All the operators taking part in RCN will dedicate fibres on both routes exclusively to RCN, paving the way to immediately upgrade or re-route the entire path when needed. 

The RCN project was signed by the seven telecom operators during a ceremony in Ankara on Friday.

Binali Yıldırım, Turkey's minister of transport and communications, said that the RCN project would "foster greater capacity in communicating with the countries in the region" and would also benefit trade and business in the region.

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