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Bharti Airtel signs deal with Orascom to acquire MENA submarine cable system

Bharti Airtel’s subsidiary company Network i2i Ltd has entered into a definitive agreement with Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding to acquire the latter’s 100% equity stake in Middle East North Africa Company Submarine Cable System (MENA-SCS). The acquisition is however subject to regulatory approvals.

Post acquisition, the additional bandwidth capacity will allow Airtel to serve demand for data services especially in the enterprise sector across the 18 countries it operates in South Asia and Africa.

The MENA submarine cable system spans across 225,000 Kms covering 50 countries and 5 continents and is fully owned and maintained by Orascom. Currently it connects India, Europe, and Middle East through optical fiber cables networks with landing points in Mumbai-Oman-Saudi Arabia-Egypt and Italy. Airtel said that the cable system could be further extended to African, Europe and other Middle Eastern countries post acquisition. Although it is not clear if Airtel would be carrying out such an expansion in the future.

Airtel currently owns and operates multiple cable systems including:
-i2i cable system connecting Chennai to Singapore
-Consortium ownership of SMW4 submarine cables  connecting Chennai, Mumbai, Singapore and Europe
-Consortium ownership in Asia America Gateway cable system (AAG), India Middle East & Western Europe (IMEWE) system, Unity, Europe India Gateway (EIG) and East Africa Submarines System (EASS)
-Terrestrial cables between neighboring countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan and China

Bay of Bengal Internet Gateway

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In April, an 8,100 kms submarine cable system owned by the The Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) consortium went live with landing points in India, UAE, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Oman and Malaysia. The cable system is owned by and maintained by several telecom operates while the Indian landing points are owned by Airtel’s rival operator Reliance Jio to support its yet to be launched broadband services in India.

Agartala Internet Gateway

In March, India’s state run telco BSNL and Bangladesh’s Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited signed a mutual deal to supply additional Internet bandwidth to Agartala via existing cables. The connectivity project between the two countries was originally inked in July last year. Here is a list of Internet gateways connecting India

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