Pacnet to land new cable system into India

DECEMBER 8, 2009 -- The submarine cable network West Asia Crossing is expected to boost network connectivity and lower costs between India and Asia, as well as across to North America, the Middle East, and Europe.

DECEMBER 8, 2009 -- Pacnet has announced that it will be making its largest investment into growing its presence in India by building West Asia Crossing (WAC), a new submarine cable network that will provide direct connectivity between India and Asia, and address the country's growing requirements for international bandwidth.

"An ongoing concern for customers and service providers in India is the current cost of international bandwidth, which despite recent cost reductions in the market, still remains high by international standards," says Bill Barney, chief executive officer of Pacnet. "To address this and help reduce the cost of connectivity for companies and individuals in India, Pacnet plans to build WAC, a cable system that will connect our existing pan-Asian EAC-C2C cable system to India."

"TeleGeography expects demand of international bandwidth to India to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 83% between 2009 and 2015. In addition to the phenomenal growth of domestic demand within India, the country is also a major hub for international submarine cables, linking Europe and the Middle East with Asia," explains TeleGeography research director Alan Mauldin. "While four new cables will soon be installed between the west coast of India and the Middle East, Pacnet's new India-Singapore cable will be the first system deployed between the east coast of India and Singapore since 2005."

WAC will be built based on the "joint build" approach that was pioneered with the Unity cable system, where each member of the partnership is able to operate independently while benefiting from the economies of scale of the project. "While we are already in talks with potential partners for WAC, we are also considering fully funding the entire project," says Barney.

The planned WAC cable system will have a design capacity of 6 to 8 Tbps. It will connect India, through a landing station in Chennai, to both Malaysia and Singapore. Dual landing points in South East Asia are planned to provide added protection from cable failure.

WAC is also designed to offer extended connectivity into Bangladesh and Sri Lanka through separate branching units, as well as the possibility of a second cable landing point in Mumbai to offer additional capacity to cables landing off the west coast of India.

"WAC will enable Pacnet to guarantee lowest-cost, lowest-latency connections between India, Asia, and the U.S., in addition to significantly improving connectivity and costs between Asia and the Middle East and Europe," says Chris Wilson, Pacnet's senior vice president of business development.

The new WAC cable is expected to cost an estimated US$150 million and will take approximately two years to construct, with a ready-for-service (RFS) date targeted around early 2012. Pacnet is currently in discussion with submarine cable suppliers and expects to announce the award of the supply contract in early 2010.

Pacnet's latest initiative follows its successful application for National Long Distance (NLD) and International Long Distance (ILD) licenses in India. The company recently received "Letters of Intent" (LOIs) from the Department of Telecommunications for its NLD and ILD license application and is currently completing the required formalities. Pacnet expects to receive the licenses by the end of 2009.

Pacnet has also commenced upgrading its network points of presence (PoPs) across India and will be building a new PoP in Chennai to serve as an international gateway between India and the rest of the company's global network. When this is completed by 3Q10, Pacnet says it will be able to deliver across India its full suite of services and technologies including Ethernet International Private Line, IP VPN, and its comprehensive range of managed services, on industry-leading service-level agreements.

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