SLT likely to invest US $ 60mn in upcoming SEA-ME-WE 6 submarine cable system

30 June 2020 08:47 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • SL eyes to get bandwidth running into multiple TBps from this underwater cable 
  • SEA-ME-WE 6 to become a key part of SLT’s content delivery network

By Nishel Fernando
The country’s national telecommunication provider, Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) PLC, is likely to invest US $ 60 million in the upcoming South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6) submarine cable system, which is scheduled to be completed by end-2021.


SLT is among the consortium members of SEA-ME-WE 6, along with the members from countries such as Bangladesh, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Djibouti, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, France, Myanmar and Yemen.


“Our domestic and global fibre infrastructure is one of our key assets and vital to our journey towards Smart Sri Lanka, as well as our global strategy; we are connected to the world through five submarine cables and are looking to invest in the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 6 submarine cable system,” SLT CEO Kiththi Perera told the shareholders in the firm’s latest annual report.


According to the company sources, SLT is planning to invest US $ 60 million in the SEA-ME-WE 6 submarine cable system. The overall cost of the project is estimated at over 
US $ 700 million. 

The underwater cable system would run from Singapore to France and is expected to have a bandwidth of 12 Tbps, according to media reports. 


SLT and other consortium members are expected to sign the supply contract and the construction and maintenance agreement within the next few months, following the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions. 


Currently a committee appointed by the consortium is evaluating the bids to award the supply contract. 


According to media reports, the United States-based SubCom, Japan’s NEC, France-based Alcatel Submarine Network and China’s Huawei Merin have expressed interest to build this underwater cable.


The project is expected for completion by the end of next year or 12-18 months after the signing of the relevant agreements among the members and bidder.  


Meanwhile, a top official of SLT revealed that Sri Lanka is eyeing to get the bandwidth running into multiple TBps from this underwater cable.


“It’s in the range of multiple Terabytes per second (TBps). We will provision enough bandwidth to cater to the entire country. The capacity that we are planning won’t be limited to the SLT customers and we will be providing capacity to other operators as well,” he elaborated. 


Apart from connectivity, the official emphasised that SEA-ME-WE 6 will become a key part of the content delivery network as SLT expects to focus on supporting rich media and video content in the future. 


Further, the cable network would also become a vital component of the country’s 5G network, which is yet to be lunched.  “As customers will access to rich content hosted in other countries with 5G, you need to have high-speed connectivity to those locations. This is where the submarine cable network system becomes very vital for us,” he noted. 


At the moment, SLT connects Sri Lanka to the world through five international submarine cable systems—SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4, SEA-ME-WE 5, Bharat-Lanka and Dhiraagu-SLT system.  SLT is a key member of the SEA-ME-WE 5 cable consortium with a full cable landing station in Matara with a capacity to connect to the East and West cable segments at 24 Tbps each.

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