Rami Olwan

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New Fibre-Optic Network to Link Middle East with Far East, Europe

Internet users in the Kingdom will witness fewer disruptions and are likely to pay less for the service, thanks to a regional multi-pass fibre optic network to be launched on July 1.

The terrestrial fibre optic connection, which is dubbed JADI link as it passes through Jeddah, Amman, Damascus and Istanbul, seeks to link the region with the Far East and Europe.

JADI link will function as an alternative route to the submarine cable networks crossing the Mediterranean and Red seas, which witnessed sporadic cuts over the past years causing disruptions in Internet services.

Launched in Istanbul last week, the project is jointly implemented by the Jordan Telecom Group Jordan, Turk Telekom, the Saudi Telecom Company (STCSTC) and Syrian TelecomSyrian Telecom.

The fibre optic line covers a total length of 2,530 kilometres, of which 770 kilometres are in Turkey, 480 kilometres in Syria, 360 kilometres in Jordan and 920 kilometres in Saudi Arabia.

“This network is reliable and provides an alternative route in cases of cuts in submarine cables, which means fewer disruptions, better services and higher speeds and capacities,” JTGJTG CEO Nayla Khawam told The Jordan Times in Istanbul ahead of the launch ceremony.

She said the project will foster the country’s ICT infrastructure, thus encouraging more investments in the sector to flow into Jordan, adding that the project is considered a boost to the country’s outsourcing sector.

“The establishment of a fibre optic connection extending through several nations in the region to reach Europe and the US is a substantial leap towards increasing Internet penetration and lowering the prices of Internet connectivity in the region,” Khawam said.

She added that the project will make the service more accessible to all segments of society, thus helping achieve The country’s targeted Internet penetration rate of 50 per cent by the end of 2011.

In the field of intercontinental Internet, data and voice transmission, JADI link will be the second most important connection corridor to be linked to the US by submarine fibre optic cable systems starting from Singapore and extending to Japan and India, following the Indian Ocean-Red Sea-Suez Canal-Mediterranean route and finishing in Italy, France, Spain and the UK, according to the project partners.

“The terrestrial fibre optic network will provide a safe and strong alternative to the cable systems that already pass through the area. These submarines cables often suffer because of earthquakes and tremors,” Turk Telekom CEO Paul Doany told reporters after the launch.

He added that the project is well timed, especially since there is high demand and broadband growth, which calls for more connectivity in the region.

In his address at the ceremony, Turkey’s Transport Minister Binali Yildirim also highlighted the importance of the project, describing it as “a first step towards further regional cooperation”.

Noting that the project reflects the strong political will of involved countries for more cooperation, the Turkish minister said similar regional projects and agreements in the sector will be announced soon.

Yildirim noted that the project will lead to a reduction in Internet prices and enhance the service by ensuring fewer disruptions.

Voicing the government’s support for the project, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Marwan Juma said it is significant for Jordan and expressed hope that it will lead to reduction in Internet prices.

In remarks to the press, Saad Al Demyati, head of the STCTC’s wholesale department, said the project will support e-commerce in the region, pointing out that the presence of advanced infrastructure and back-up routes would attract investments and support the economy.

“This project is a major achievement for the involved parties,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Nazem Bahsas, director general of Syrian Telecom, described the project as highly feasible.

“The project region is geographically significant and it is very important that there is an alternative route,” he told reporters.



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