June 1, 2004 Doha, Qatar and London--FLAG Telecom, a provider of international wholesale network transport and communications services, announced that Omantel, the national telecommunications operator in Oman, has signed a dual landing station agreement for the FALCON cable system.
This new high capacity loop will provide multiple landings throughout the Gulf region, with submarine links stretching to Egypt in the west and to Hong Kong in the east. The Gulf loop and east and west links will interconnect at two landings in Oman.
Omantel has also signed a capacity agreement with FLAG Telecom, purchasing international connectivity on the FALCON cable system, providing direct connectivity to any point on the FLAG global network.
The FALCON cable system will include the Gulf region's first self-healing submarine network ring providing all countries connected to the high capacity cable with extremely reliable, high quality connectivity. Countries that have the potential to directly access this resilient connectivity include Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq and Iran. All of these countries have shown interest in joining FALCON and most are in advanced discussions with FLAG Telecom regarding their participation. Branching units can be added along the entire FALCON cable route to allow more countries in the region to connect to the system as their communications needs continue to expand.
Leaving the Gulf, the western link of the FALCON system follows a route across the top of the Arabian Sea and through the Red Sea, where it will interconnect with FLAG's global network at Telecom Egypt's landing station at Suez.
Travelling from Oman along its easterly link, FALCON will cross the Arabian Sea to a new Reliance-owned landing station at Mumbai, India. At this point FALCON will interconnect seamlessly to Reliance's pan-India 80,000 km high-speed backbone network linking approx 1,100 cities and towns across the length and breadth of the country. From Chennai, on the East coast of India, FALCON will link India to Hong Kong where the cable will once again integrate with FLAG's global network.
Engineer Mohammed Bin Ali Al Wohaibi, Omantel executive president said: "Oman is geographically ideally located at the heart of the FALCON route, providing important communication links from the world's business centers to India and Asia to the east and to Egypt in the west. We are looking forward to the introduction of FALCON project and anticipate that it will meet the burgeoning broadband demand from the fast growing Gulf and wider Middle East region not just for this decade, but for the decade beyond."
Patrick Gallagher, chief executive officer of FLAG Telecom, said: "FALCON will bring enormous amounts of capacity to a region previously underserved by international connectivity. Oman is now positioned to be a new regional hub for the advanced broadband communication services to be carried on FALCON. The new cable system is designed to unlock the broadband opportunity along the entire route and provide the first direct terabits per second link between the world's two fastest growing economies -- India and China."
Walid Irshaid, president, Middle East and Africa, FLAG Telecom, said: "We are delighted to have concluded this agreement. FALCON will be the only cable system to provide fully protected services within the Gulf and will allow direct international connectivity from the region to the main business centres around the world for the first time. We look forward to gathering again next year in Muscat to celebrate the inauguration of the FALCON landing station."
FLAG's fiber-optic cable network already spans the globe and the company offers customers east and west routing, meaning traffic can be switched at any time to avoid a cable cut or natural disaster. FALCON is planned to provide additional resilience across the major route from Egypt to Hong Kong and particularly around the Middle East.
In the first international acquisition by the Reliance Group, FLAG Telecom became a member company on January 12, 2004. FLAG Telecom has an established customer base of more than 180 operators, including all of the top ten international carriers.