PEACE Cable: Pakistan's Highest Bandwidth Undersea Internet Connection to Africa and Europe

Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) is  96 Tbps (terabits per second), 15,000 km long, privately owned submarine cable that will originate in Karachi, Pakistan and run underwater all the way to Marseilles, France via multiple points in the continent of Africa.  It is being built as part of Digital Silk Road sponsored by China. Cybernet and Jazz are the local landing and global connectivity partners of PEACE Cable System in Pakistan. It will enable high-speed access to a variety of content, cloud computing, gaming and video streaming platforms.  


PEACE Undersea Cable Route. Source: Submarine Cable Networks



The laying of PEACE undersea cable in Pakistan's territorial waters will begin in March, following government approval this month for Cybernet, a local internet service provider, to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi, according to Nikkei Asia. The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,000 kilometer-long cable is expected to go into service later this year.   

Mobile Broadband Subscriptions & Data Growth in Pakistan


A 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north  and operational since July, 2018. It is currently being extended to Karachi for connection to PEACE cable. 

Broadband Subscriptions Growth in Pakistan. Source: PTA

When completed, PEACE cable will be Pakistan's 7th highest bandwidth, lowest latency undersea connection to the global Internet system. Currently, there are 6 international submarine cable systems connecting Pakistan, including SMW3, SMW4, SMW5, IMEWE, AAE-1 and TW1. PTCL is the landing party in Pakistan for SMW3, SMW4, AAE-1 and IMEWE cable systems, operates cable landing stations in Karachi. SMW3, SMW4 and IMEWE land at Hawksbay, while AAE-1 lands at Clifton. Transworld Associates Private Limited (Transworld, or TWA) privately owns the TW1 cable system and is a member of the SMW5 consortium. Both TW1 and SMW5 land at Hawksbay and terminate at Transworld's cable landing station in Karachi.  


Pakistan has experienced a huge surge in Internet traffic during the COVID19 pandemic. Cellular Mobile Data usage in the country has soared from 2,545 petabytes in 2019 to 4,498 petabytes in 2020.  Total number of broadband subscriptions in the country has doubled from about 45 million in 2017 to 90 million in 2020,  according to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority




Comments

Riaz Haq said…
China builds 'Digital Silk Road' to bypass India for Pakistani internet traffic
PEACE cable will drastically reduce the time taken to transfer internet data

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2282931/china-builds-digital-silk-road-to-bypass-india-for-pakistani-internet-traffic

As part of the broader Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is set to lay the final stretch of a cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan that will create the Digital Silk Road, serving the geostrategic interests of both countries, Nikkei Asia reported.

The fiber cable will link to the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable in the Arabian Sea, to service countries participating in BRI, and Europe.

The PEACE cable will provide the shortest direct internet route between participating countries and drastically reduce the time taken to transfer internet data.

The report stated that the cable is currently being laid between Rawalpindi and the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. "The $240-million project, which is in partnership with China's Huawei Technologies, was approved by the government last week," it added.

The laying of sea cable in the country's territorial waters will begin in March, following government's approval this month to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi.

"The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,000 kilometre-long cable is expected to go into service later this year," it said.

Observers see this as a strategic move to circumvent international telecommunication consortiums dominated by Western and Indian companies.

The report stated that some BRI projects have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic and debt crises in partner countries, including a $6.8 billion railway project in Pakistan. "Part of Beijing's response has been to step up digital projects and the development of communications infrastructure."

The report acknowledged that in recent months, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority has accelerated efforts to improve Gwadar's connectivity with major road and rail upgrades.

Pakistan is also looking for an alternate link to the internet through China. At present, most Europe-bound internet traffic from China feeds through terrestrial cables traversing Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Pakistan is served by seven submarine cables at present, four of which come out of India, according to Telegeography, a Washington-based telecommunications market research company. These cable networks have been developed by consortiums that include telecom companies from India, Egypt and Pakistan.

The PEACE cable is expected to help reduce Pakistan's exposure to internet outages from damaged submarine cables by providing an additional route for internet connectivity.

Eyck Freymann, author of One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World, told Nikkei that the BRI is evolving to place less emphasis on traditional heavy infrastructure, and more on high-tech cooperation and digital services.

"Beijing wants to dominate the physical infrastructure underlying global communications, particularly the internet," he said. "This will give it an advantage in internationalizing its tech sector and pursuing future tech-related deals with partner countries."

The ambitious multi-trillion-dollar BRI initiative (or the new Silk Road), announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to boost connectivity and cooperation between East Asia, Europe, and East Africa. It is expected to significantly boost global trade, cutting trading costs in half for the countries involved, according to expert estimates.
Riaz Haq said…
India has the highest percentage of smartphone users, at 69 percent, followed by Sri Lanka with 60 percent, Nepal 53 percent and Pakistan 51 percent.

https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/bangladesh-behind-nepal-pakistan-smartphone-use-2069457


The report was unveiled at a virtual roundtable organised jointly by GSMA (Groupe Spécial Mobile Association) and the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB).

The report, titled "Achieving mobile-enabled digital inclusion in Bangladesh", said 4G network now covered 95 per cent of the population. Yet, there was still a significant usage gap of 67 per cent as only 28 per cent of the population had 4G connections.

"This suggests a lag between 4G coverage rollout and usage of 4G services. This lag in usage is largely explained by issues related to the affordability of devices, low levels of knowledge and digital skills, a perceived lack of relevance, as well as safety and security concerns."


High sector-specific taxes, a fragmented licensing regime, as well as issues with the pricing and usage restrictions on spectrum have been identified as barriers to expanding coverage.

Bangladesh, however, fares better compared to Nepal and Sri Lanka in terms of 4G connections. Only 17 per cent of the population has 4G connections in Nepal, and 18 per cent in Sri Lanka, according to the report.

India has the highest 4G connections at 63 percent of the population followed by Pakistan.

Bangladesh has 17 crore mobile connections. Of them, nine crore are unique subscribers, giving a penetration rate of 54 percent as of December 2020.

Some 47 percent of subscribers use 2G connections and 25 per cent 3G connections.

The report said internet and digital technology played a key role in helping drive economic growth and societal development in Bangladesh.

Digital technologies, mobile in particular, will be crucial to implementing the government's 2041 Perspective Plan, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and recovering economically in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the report said.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan to experience a boost in Internet speeds as IT Ministry approves 9 Fiber Optic projects

https://www.techjuice.pk/pakistan-to-experience-a-boost-in-internet-speeds-as-it-ministry-approves-9-fiber-optic-projects/


The Ministry of Information Technology has approved Rs. 8 billion to complete 9 fibre-optic broadband projects that will boost internet speeds and make the Internet accessible to the masses. After a meeting between the Universal service fund’s board of directors, the announcement came by the IT Ministry. The Information Technology minister, Syed Amin ul Haq had directed the projects’ approval to materialise the Digital Pakistan vision, the announcement adds.

People living in remote areas often experience poor internet speeds and experience considerable hardships to improve internet signals due to a lack of Internet network infrastructure. However, measures are underway to bring such areas at par with the rest of Pakistan, including tourist destinations such as Babusar Top, Swat, Karakoram highway and Galyat, where faster internet will become possible through broadband services.

The project will involve laying fibre optic cables and providing broadband services in all 4 provinces, benefiting some 7.5 million people living areas stretching 40,000 km. Approvals were also granted to initiate projects that will ensure 24/7 mobile phone services and broadband on an emergency basis in the Northern areas to promote tourism.

Ensuring faster internet access at a national level and enabling access to telecom/internet technologies through consistent infrastructure investment is a key cornerstone of the larger Digital Pakistan vision. Prime Minister Imran Khan formally announced and inaugurated the Digital Pakistan initiative in 2019 to set the country in the direction of the much needed and awaited tech-enabled future. A task force was also formed to achieve the defined targets named Strategic Reform and Implementation Unit (SRIU).

Riaz Haq said…
Google's and Kantar's"Journey to Digital" report on Pakistan

https://www.geo.tv/latest/362818-google-research-highlights-digital-revolution-overtaking-pakistan

https://youtu.be/7mlSvA7MyWo

The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.
The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country.
The study further shows 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.

Pakistan is witnessing a digital revolution and most of the citizens are ready to embrace it as more than half the population of the country access internet on daily basis, a study has revealed.

Google and Kantar shared new research “Journey to Digital” about the digital population in Pakistan. The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.

The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi / Islamabad).

Overall, 66% of internet users are based in urban areas while 47% are based in rural areas. The study further showed that 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.

According to the study, young males are early adopters, who access the internet more than any other group. They are also keener to try new things and need the internet for education and work.

Internet usage surged due to COVID-19, finds the study, as, before the lockdown, 79% of internet users in urban locations accessed the internet daily, which increased by 10% since lockdowns were imposed.

Google Search and YouTube are most popular in Pakistan, said the study. YouTube, used by nearly 90% of all internet users, is the most popular app in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey.

The study also says that one-third of all internet users in Pakistan have made a purchase online and one-fourth of these shoppers have increased their spending during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Pakistan is a witness to the e-commerce boom as 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54% agree that online shopping websites or apps give personalised product recommendations, which is a common question from shoppers.

However, 66% of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward, and two-thirds of Pakistan online shoppers believe that they will buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google explained, “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviours that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.”

"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.

Trust is also crucial, so helping customers gain confidence by showing them how easy, convenient and personal the e-shopping experience will be critical to continuing the upward rise of eCommerce in Pakistan, Leah Westwood, Client Manager at Kantar added.



Riaz Haq said…
2Africa Consortium Extended to the Arabian Gulf, #India & #Pakistan. World's longest #undersea cable adding Oman (Barka), #UAE, #Qatar, #Bahrain, #Kuwait, Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (#Karachi), India (Mumbai), & a fourth landing in Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar). https://prn.to/3kI3tnr

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1442991269605638149?s=20

DUBAI, UAE, Sept. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2Africa consortium, comprised of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC, announced today the addition of a new segment - the 2Africa PEARLS branch - extending to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan. This extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa cable system to over 45,000 kilometers, making it the longest subsea cable system ever deployed.

Now connecting three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia terrestrially through Egypt, 2Africa creates unique connectivity by adding vital landing locations in Oman (Barka), UAE (Abu Dhabi and Kalba), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait), Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Mumbai), and a fourth landing in Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar). The new 2Africa branch joins recently announced extensions to the Canary Islands, the Seychelles, Comoros Islands, Angola, and a new landing to south-east Nigeria.

As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available in PEARLS landings at carrier-neutral facilities or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.

To further support a burgeoning global digital economy, the expanded system will serve an even wider range of communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and businesses, providing economic and social benefits that come from increased connectivity. As announced in May 2020, 2Africa was planned to directly bring seamless international connectivity to 1.2 billion people. Today, with 2Africa PEARLS, 2Africa will be providing international connectivity to an additional 1.8 billion people--that's 3 billion people, representing 36% of the global population.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will deploy the new system utilizing new technologies such as SDM that allow the deployment of up to 16 fiber pairs, double that of older technologies and bringing greater and more cost-effective capacity.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan's cautionary tale of digital dependence on China
Beijing is successfully exploiting the need for connectivity in developing countries


Jonathan E. Hillman

https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Pakistan-s-cautionary-tale-of-digital-dependence-on-China

The questions also pertain to the evolution of China's Belt and Road Initiative project. Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature initiative is putting a greater emphasis on technology because the economies of many of its partners are under strain and lack the fiscal resources to borrow for large transport and energy projects. It is also part of a strategy to find new markets for Chinese tech companies that are being squeezed out of advanced economies.

Most importantly, digital infrastructure is widely viewed as the foundation for tomorrow's economies. Especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, countries are trying to connect their populations and expand access to essential online services, from health care and taxes to voting. No one wants to be on the losing side of the digital divide.

Competing with China's Digital Silk Road will require the U.S. and its allies to offer affordable alternatives. They are playing catch-up in developing fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks, but in other important areas, including submarine cables, smart cities, cloud computing and satellite broadband, U.S. companies are ahead. Success will require packaging hard infrastructure with services, financing and training as well as setting standards and safeguards to promote the responsible use of technology.

Coordination costs loom large, but several allied efforts are gaining steam. The Group of Seven's Build Back Better World partnership and the European Union's Global Gateway initiative both include a focus on digital infrastructure. Australia, Japan and the U.S. are cofinancing a submarine cable to Palau, and these countries along with India are jointly working on technology and infrastructure as well. The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council includes a working group that seeks to expand financing for digital projects in developing countries.

Pakistan may be too deeply entangled in China's Digital Silk Road to turn around and chart its own course. Its data, and its future, are increasingly in Beijing's hands. This growing dependency is a cautionary tale for developing countries looking to harness technology. But with half of the world still lacking access to reliable internet, the global connectivity contest is just getting started.

Riaz Haq said…
BBC Misrepresents my Views on "Debt Trap Diplomacy"


By Debora Brautigam


http://www.chinaafricarealstory.com/2021/12/bbc-misrepresents-my-views-on-debt-trap.html


The BBC misrepresented my views this morning, and I admit I'm stunned. I'm a big fan of the BBC. Living in Taiwan and Hong Kong, in the 1970s doing fieldwork across Africa in the 1980s, I used to listen to the BBC World Service on my shortwave radio and I trusted them to present nuanced and balanced analysis.
Last night I had a call from London. I picked up to find a BBC reporter who wanted my views on Chinese "debt trap diplomacy." Apparently the head of Britain's intelligence service, Richard Moore, had given the BBC an interview in which he said that the Chinese have deliberately used debt as leverage to acquire strategic assets. We spoke for awhile on background and I outlined why this idea had little basis in fact, drawing on my extensive research with Meg Rithmire about the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and other cases, and that of other researchers. I gave examples from Montenegro, Kenya, Zambia, and other places where these fears have been trumpeted in the media, but without evidence to support them. He said that another reporter would call me in an hour and record an interview.
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I quickly listened to the BBC recording (my clip is about 1 hr 50 minutes into the program) and was horrified to find that the only clip they took from the interview was my explanation of the "idea" of debt trap diplomacy and the "conventional wisdom" about the case in Sri Lanka. They completely discarded all the evidence I presented after that about why that conventional wisdom was not correct. Then, they brought in a former adviser to the Trump administration whom he interviewed at some length about the China threat, but again providing no evidence about "debt trap diplomacy" aside from this: "we've charted it globally and it's fairly widespread". She also repeated the claim that the Chinese bring in all their own workers.

The reporter leading the story clearly had his mind made up already about the point of view he wanted to present. My little clip was prefaced by a question I was never asked: "What can we do to combat this?" he said, rather than a question that would have made room for a more balanced discussion of this claim. It all reminds me, rather depressingly, about the widespread belief that the Chinese were acquiring large amounts of land in Africa to grow food to send back to China. I spent three years doing field research on that myth and wrote an Oxford University Press book debunking it. No one makes that claim anymore--not due to me, I think, but simply because a more interesting "threat narrative" has now gripped the media's mind. Sigh.
Riaz Haq said…
The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth
The narrative wrongfully portrays both Beijing and the developing countries it deals with.

By Deborah Brautigam and Meg Rithmire

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/02/china-debt-trap-diplomacy/617953/

The notion of “debt-trap diplomacy” casts China as a conniving creditor and countries such as Sri Lanka as its credulous victims. On a closer look, however, the situation is far more complex. China’s march outward, like its domestic development, is probing and experimental, a learning process marked by frequent adjustment. After the construction of the port in Hambantota, for example, Chinese firms and banks learned that strongmen fall and that they’d better have strategies for dealing with political risk. They’re now developing these strategies, getting better at discerning business opportunities and withdrawing where they know they can’t win. Still, American leaders and thinkers from both sides of the aisle give speeches about China’s “modern-day colonialism.”

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China, we are told, inveigles poorer countries into taking out loan after loan to build expensive infrastructure that they can’t afford and that will yield few benefits, all with the end goal of Beijing eventually taking control of these assets from its struggling borrowers. As states around the world pile on debt to combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster flagging economies, fears of such possible seizures have only amplified.

Seen this way, China’s internationalization—as laid out in programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative—is not simply a pursuit of geopolitical influence but also, in some tellings, a weapon. Once a country is weighed down by Chinese loans, like a hapless gambler who borrows from the Mafia, it is Beijing’s puppet and in danger of losing a limb.

The prime example of this is the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota. As the story goes, Beijing pushed Sri Lanka into borrowing money from Chinese banks to pay for the project, which had no prospect of commercial success. Onerous terms and feeble revenues eventually pushed Sri Lanka into default, at which point Beijing demanded the port as collateral, forcing the Sri Lankan government to surrender control to a Chinese firm.

The Trump administration pointed to Hambantota to warn of China’s strategic use of debt: In 2018, former Vice President Mike Pence called it “debt-trap diplomacy”—a phrase he used through the last days of the administration—and evidence of China’s military ambitions. Last year, erstwhile Attorney General William Barr raised the case to argue that Beijing is “loading poor countries up with debt, refusing to renegotiate terms, and then taking control of the infrastructure itself.”

As Michael Ondaatje, one of Sri Lanka’s greatest chroniclers, once said, “In Sri Lanka a well-told lie is worth a thousand facts.” And the debt-trap narrative is just that: a lie, and a powerful one.

Our research shows that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually seized an asset from any country, much less the port of Hambantota. A Chinese company’s acquisition of a majority stake in the port was a cautionary tale, but it’s not the one we’ve often heard. With a new administration in Washington, the truth about the widely, perhaps willfully, misunderstood case of Hambantota Port is long overdue.

The city of Hambantota lies at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, a few nautical miles from the busy Indian Ocean shipping lane that accounts for nearly all of the ocean-borne trade between Asia and Europe, and more than 80 percent of ocean-borne global trade. When a Chinese firm snagged the contract to build the city’s port, it was stepping into an ongoing Western competition, though one the United States had largely abandoned.

Riaz Haq said…
According to details, SEA-ME-WE 6 cable will be live and ready for service by Q1 2025.

https://propakistani.pk/2022/02/25/pakistan-to-get-new-submarine-cable-sea-me-we-6-with-100tbps-speeds-through-twa/

The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6) is a 19,200 km-long submarine cable system connecting Pakistan with multiple countries between Singapore and France. SEA-ME-WE 6 will offer one of the lowest latencies available between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe, transferring more than 100 Tbps, the equivalent of 40,000 high-definition videos each second.

The SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium includes Trans World Associates, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (India) Dhiraagu (Maldives), Djibouti Telecom, Mobily (Saudi Arabia), Orange (France), Singtel (Singapore), Sri Lanka Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Telekom Malaysia and Telin (Indonesia).

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Kamran Malik, President of Transworld said:

“To meet ever increasing demand of bandwidth and to play a pivotal role in the forthcoming era of 5G, Transworld has joined the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium, to build the latest state of the art high-capacity submarine cable system.”

SEA-ME-WE 6 will have more fibre pairs and more than double the capacity as compared to previous SEA-ME-WE cables.

SEA-ME-WE 6 provides an additional layer of diversity and resilience for the high traffic density route between Asia and Europe, strengthening the overall network of each consortium partner, through trans-Egypt’s new geo-diversified crossings and landing points.

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https://www.totaltele.com/512525/Telin-Joins-SEA-ME-WE-6-Consortium-Connecting-Singapore-to-France-completion-set-for-Q1-2025

The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6) consortium announced today that construction has commenced on a 19,200 km-long submarine cable system connecting multiple countries between Singapore and France. SEA-ME-WE 6 will offer one of the lowest latencies available between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe, transferring more than 100 terabytes per second, the equivalent of 40,000 high-definition videos each second.
The SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium includes Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (India) Dhiraagu (Maldives), Djibouti Telecom, Mobily (Saudi Arabia), Orange (France), Singtel (Singapore), Sri Lanka Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Telekom Malaysia, Telin (Indonesia), and Trans World Associates (Pakistan).
Riaz Haq said…
How submarine cable will slash Internet cost
It will improve speed more than five prior cables

https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/big-read/2022-08-18-how-submarine-cable-will-slash-internet-cost/

In Summary
• While Kenya has the second-highest internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, costs are almost five times compared to Europe

• A survey puts monthly Internet costs in Kenya at an average of Sh2,800 for 10mbps, way above global average of Sh2,100

Kenya is set to enjoy faster Internet speed and lower charges on a new submarine cable with a combined capacity of all existing ones.

The 15,000km cable, called Peace, has a designed capacity of 16 terabyte per second fibre pair with 200 gigabyte per second per single wavelength, almost four times faster than the initial cable that landed at the Kenyan coast in 2009.

Speaking during the launch, ICT CS Joe Mucheru said the new cable is coming to enhance existing ones, bring efficiency and help in cutting high Internet costs in the country.

"This cable will disrupt the technology sector, improve speed and reduce costs to inspire socioeconomic development not just in Kenya but Africa," Mucheru said.

The latest survey on Internet costs by the World Internet Stats shows that, while Kenya has the second-highest Internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, costs are almost five times compared to Europe.

It puts monthly Internet costs in Kenya at an average of Sh2,800 for 10mbps, way above the global average of Sh2,100.

Mucheru said high Internet cost is a barrier to innovation, adding that the government is working with the private sector to ensure quality and affordability.

This is the sixth submarine cable landing at the Kenyan Coast and is estimated to have cost $400 million, close to Sh46 billion.

The amount is five times more compared to the cost of the initial cable by Seacom that was launched in 2009.

IT expert and former ICT PS Bitange Ndemo lauded the launch of the new cable, saying it is poised to take Kenya to the next level of technological empowerment.

"The first cable we launched in 2009 is credited for several innovations that have put Kenya on the global map. Before then, we used to rely on satellite. We have come a long way," Ndemo said.

The cable is connecting Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, France and countries along the way with an extension to Singapore and South Africa.

It was funded under Public Private Partnership courtesy of Telkom Kenya, Orange, Telecom Egypt, Cybernet, HMN Tech and PCCW Global.

Kenya is shaping up as a centre-stage for the ongoing scramble for Africa in the tech space, with international firms from Europe, America and Asia landing their marine cables at the Coast.

The country has now six such cables in the span of a decade, with the first one being by Seacom in 2009 followed by The Teams in 2010.

Others are Lion2, Eassy and Dare1, which are hosted by Telkom Kenya.

Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati said the company has a terrestrial backbone of 600km across the country, connecting at least 34 counties in Kenya and the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and Sudan.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan & East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) is 12,000 km long cable system that provides an open, flexible and carrier-neutral services for its customers.

http://www.peacecable.net/news/Detail/16603

PEACE is targeted for completion in Q1, 2020.The system design will adopt the latest 200G technology and WSS technology, which provides the capability to transmit over 16 Tbps per fiber pair, servicing growing regional capacity needs. The PEACE cable system with landings in Pakistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya and France --- in the first phase -- will connect the three most populated continents in the world, providing critical interconnection to the economic corridors of Asia, Europe, and Africa. A total capacity of 96 Tbps will be added to Pakistan’s internet infrastructure.

The PEACE cable project will enable carriers to extend gigabit speeds to the Pakistani population and will be instrumental in meeting the exponential growth in bandwidth demand from mobile and fixed broadband users in Pakistan and neighboring countries.

Speaking on the occasion, Wu Qianjun, Vice president of Hengtong Group and CEO of PEACE Cable, said:

“PEACE is the first privately owned submarine cable system from China. We see the PEACE project as a strategic pivot for the HENGTONG Group - to obtain our experience as a subsea cable investor and look forward to identifying new investing opportunities in this market in the future. We are extremely excited to cooperate with Cybernet as our landing partner in Pakistan for PEACE. It’s the power of this cooperation that is spearheading the deployment and commercialization of better connectivity between Asia, Africa and Europe.”

Cybernet, amongst Pakistan’s oldest ISPs, is the PEACE Cable Landing Station Partner in Pakistan and has been entrusted with deploying PEACE Pakistan Cable Landing Station (CLS) and managing its operations. With over 22 years of experience in building and running countrywide fiber broadband operations, IP/MPLS networks and cloud optimized data centers, Cybernet will be building Pakistan’s first carrier-neutral cable landing station for PEACE cable by Q1 2020 in Karachi.

Speaking on the occasion, Danish Lakhani, CEO of Cybernet Pakistan, said:

“We are humbled to be able to contribute in bringing a submarine cable system that will have an outsized impact on the digital landscape in Pakistan. PEACE is the only cable system that originates in Pakistan and connects 3 continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and elevates our country’s strategic standing in the global connectivity race. This ultra-high capacity cable will boost available bandwidth to meet current and future requirements of Pakistan and that of neighboring countries. With its ultra-low latency design, the cable will cut down transit time between Pakistan and France to under 90 milliseconds – dramatically improving the response time of internet-based applications and the experience of our users. The cable will also bolster the redundancy of our country’s connectivity to the rest of world. At Cybernet, our vision is to create an enabling environment for Pakistan’s digital landscape where ISPs, carriers, CDNs, content providers and virtually all IT enabled firms can extend affordable services to our citizens – while contributing to increasing GDP, IT exports and total factor productivity. The PEACE cable system will contribute significantly in bringing us closer to achieving this vision.”

Riaz Haq said…
‘One Network’ catches the eye at IDEAS-22


https://tribune.com.pk/story/2386761/one-network-catches-the-eye-at-ideas-22


The ‘One Network’ is an advanced communication project, under which 3,000 kilometres of underground fibre optic cable is being laid along the motorways across Pakistan. After the completion of the project, it would meet Pakistan's telecommunication requirements.


According to the One Network chief operating officer (COO), 2,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable haf been laid under the motorways communication infrastructure. People traveling on the motorways would get relief from the rush situations. It would also eliminate cash payments at toll plazas.

The system would also be linked to the motorway police to keep check on any violation of the traffic rules, such as wearing of seat belt and the speed limit. Besides, in case of emergency, people would get timely recovery or rescue assistance.

The ‘One Network’ covers M1 to M16 Motorways in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Pindi Bhattian, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sialkot, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Hazara, besides the Lahore Ring Road and Lahore-Faisalabad route.

The FWO is also conducting six diploma courses. According to the principal of this project, Col (retd) Atif, about 45 short courses of three to six months of duration were also offered. The graduated from here were associated with technical fields in Pakistan and other countries.
Riaz Haq said…
5G technology to be launched next year

https://www.nation.com.pk/06-Dec-2022/5g-technology-to-be-launched-next-year

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication is likely to launch 5G technology next year in the country to cope with the challenges of the digital world. The official of ministry of IT and telecommunication said that the provision of broadband services across the country was the topmost priority of the ministry of IT. He said that the ministry of IT through the Universal Service Fund (USF) had launched some 70 projects of optical fiber cable (OFC) and broadband infrastructure development in four provinces at a cost of Rs 65 billion. “All projects are underway in far-flung areas would be completed by June next year,” he added. “In the province of Sindh alone, 20 projects of NGBSD and OFC worth Rs16.3 billion have been started so far in 20 districts, including Tharparkar, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Larkana, Badin, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Mirpurkhas, and Dadu,” the official said. He said that projects of connectivity of the un-served and underserved communities of Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces had also been launched. He said, through USF aimed to connect all the citizens of the country as digitalisation had become a priority for businesses and communities. Under its Next Generation Optic Fiber (NG-OF) Network and Services programme, USF had contracted over 16,000km of Optic Fiber Cable (OFC) to benefit 31.5 million populations across the country.
Riaz Haq said…
Jazz and Huawei Successfully Accomplished Nationwide Rollout for FDD Massive MIMO in Pakistan

https://www.lightreading.com/jazz-and-huawei-successfully-accomplished-nationwide-rollout-for-fdd-massive-mimo/a/d-id/782496

Jazz and Huawei have commercially deployed FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) Massive MIMO (Multiple Input and Multiple Output) solution based on 5G technology in a large scale. The solution has been developed and tailored to the needs of boosting network capacity and user experience.
This customized solution has been the first launch of Jazz and Huawei, supporting Jazz leap into the 4.9G domain. This innovative solution has tremendously enhanced the network capacities along with superior 4G experience for the valued subscribers. The average network traffic increased by around 30% and the average single user speed increased by around 170%.

Jazz’s Chief Technology Officer, Khalid Shehzad said, “We see that our customers are increasingly using high-bandwidth applications which resultantly puts pressure on existing network capabilities. Massive MIMO essentially allows us the freedom to provide more data at greater speeds, enabling our customers to use the enhanced services on their existing 4G devices. Network speeds will be faster than ever, which will significantly improve the end-user experience. Jazz is committed to developing an ecosystem that supports the government’s Digital Pakistan vision and the evolving technology needs of individuals and businesses.”

Huawei provides the industry's unique intelligent beam scheduling and intelligent beamforming technology which are native for 5G. Massive MIMO improves the capability of the handsets to transmit more efficiently. Currently Huawei FDD Massive MIMO has been deployed in more than 70 networks and over 20,000 units have been shipped. The level of collaboration between Jazz and Huawei goes beyond to more domains. For example, the first 400G transmission, the first core network cloudification, the first large-scale commercial use of VoLTE, and the first 3G sunset city. In Pakistan, Jazz maintains a leading position in network performance and innovations, and it leads the development of the entire ICT industry.
Riaz Haq said…
Here is How Much Internet Pakistanis Consumed in 2022

https://propakistani.pk/2023/01/17/here-is-how-much-internet-pakistanis-consumed-in-2022/

Every Pakistani broadband user consumed 81 GB of data in FY22, which showed double-digit growth of 11 percent as compared to the average yearly internet consumption which stood at 73 GB per person in FY21.

During the period under review, 8,970 petabytes of mobile data usage was reported in Pakistan, indicating a 31 percent increase from the previous year. Five years ago, mobile data usage in the country stood at 1,262 petabytes.

Riaz Haq said…
China's Sunwalk Group intends to invest $2 bn in Pakistan telecom sector | Business Standard News

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/china-s-sunwalk-group-intends-to-invest-2-bn-in-pakistan-telecom-sector-123031600116_1.html


China's Sunwalk Group intends to invest USD 2 billion in Cash-Strapped Pakistan's telecom sector for the deployment of an optical fiber network, Business Recorder reported.

The deployment of an optical fiber network will cover an area of 100,000 km over a period of time in Pakistan.

A high-level delegation of the Sunwalk Group led by chairman HOU called on Pakistan's Minister for IT and Telecom Syed Aminul Haque on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed about investment in telecom infrastructure, optical fiber cable (OFC), and right of way (RoW).

Sunwalk (Pvt) Ltd, is a telecom and technology-based multinational private Chinese enterprise that has developed multiple telecoms, and communication infrastructure projects in China and has acquired the TIP License in Pakistan, reported Business Recorder.

The company started deployment and invested about USD 5 million and has the plan to deploy 5,000 km OFC as the next step, according to Business Recorder.
Riaz Haq said…
#Starlink #Satellite #Broadband is Now Officially Registered in #Pakistan. It could potentially revolutionize Pakistan’s #telecommunications industry by providing faster and more affordable internet services, even in remote areas. https://propakistani.pk/2023/03/22/starlink-satellite-broadband-is-now-officially-registered-in-pakistan/

https://propakistani.pk/2023/03/22/starlink-satellite-broadband-is-now-officially-registered-in-pakistan/

In a significant development for Pakistan’s IT and Telecommunication sector, Director of Global Licensing and Market Activation at SpaceX, Ryan Goodnight, called on the Federal Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Syed Aminul Haq, to discuss the registration of SpaceX’s Starlink in Pakist

According to the Minister, Starlink has registered itself with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

The meeting was aimed at exploring how Starlink’s fastest and cheapest satellite internet services could pave the way for affordable broadband services in every corner of Pakistan.

The Minister expressed his optimism that Starlink’s services could significantly reduce the operational costs of telecom operators, even in remote areas where inactive mobile towers could be activated at low cost.

“Our main objective is to provide broadband services to every corner of Pakistan at affordable tariffs,” said the Minister, adding, “Starlink can play an important role in this regard.”

Ryan Goodnight thanked the Minister for his full cooperation and appreciated Pakistan’s progress in the IT and Telecommunication sector. “Basic steps are complete, and now we are ready to go fast,” Ryan added.

This development could potentially revolutionize Pakistan’s telecommunications industry by providing faster and more affordable internet services, even in remote areas. The successful implementation of Starlink’s services in Pakistan could be a significant step towards achieving the goal of a connected Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
OneWeb secures Pakistan distribution | Advanced Television

https://advanced-television.com/2021/11/08/oneweb-secures-pakistan-distribution/


The newly formed OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV will bring high-speed satellite connectivity to NEOM, Saudi Arabia, the wider Middle East and neighbouring countries including Pakistan.

The OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV has exclusive rights to distribute OneWeb services in these regions for seven years, and is expected to commence operations in 2023.

The OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV is looking to transform businesses and communities, stimulating enterprise across the region, with gateways and Points of Presence (POPs) in the Middle East providing security, speed and low latency data to sectors such as finance and retail, as well as schools and hospitals.

The JV says it will offer a seamless solution to infrastructural hurdles in Pakistan, where mobile operators and local loop operators will be able to leverage the service to expand their coverage areas, offering dependable low-cost internet access.

Matthew Johnson, Interim CEO of the OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV, said: “LEO satellites not only mean we can reach absolutely everyone everywhere, but with reliable and rapid speeds – connectivity at 100 megabits per second and more without the need for techniques such as trenching or placement of 5G equipment and fiber optics. This partnership with REDtone highlights how this technology presents an incredible growth opportunity for the wider region.”
Riaz Haq said…
Super Fast Gigabit Fiber Internet is Coming to 11 Cities in Pakistan Soon

https://propakistani.pk/2023/06/07/super-fast-gigabit-fiber-internet-is-coming-to-11-cities-in-pakistan-soon/

Pakistan is about to get ultra-fast gigabit fiber internet in eleven cities soon, as per government documents available with ProPakistani.

This document highlights the Public Sector Development Project (PDSP) budget during the period of 2022-2024. It includes a summary of current ongoing projects, future projects, and more under the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives.

Under the Information Technology and Telecom Division, it highlights a new scheme for a project that will expand Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) Fiber to the Home (FTTH) services to eleven cities.

In simpler words, super fast gigabit internet is coming to more cities soon, as mentioned earlier. The project’s approval status is still “under process”, so it will probably be a while before it sees the light of day.

The government has approved a cost of Rs. 800 million and there is no foreign aid on this particular project. An additional Rs. 50 million will be allocated to this project during the course of 2023-2024.

Other Development Projects
The IT section of the document also highlights dozens of other projects the govt is working on at the moment, such as 4 more knowledge parks, a technology park development project, an online recruitment system for FPSC, smart offices for Federal Ministries and Departments, expansion of broadband services in Kashmir and Gilgit, and much more.

Riaz Haq said…
Chinese firm starts to lay 16,000-km-long fibre-optic cable in Pakistan


https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1072079-chinese-firm-starts-to-lay-16-000-km-long-fibre-optic-cable

This was stated by Tony Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Sunwalk Pvt Limited, during a ceremony held in Islamabad. This Chinese company had already invested $5 million in Pakistan, and now planning to invest $100 million for laying optical fiber in other parts after getting Right of Way (ROW) from different public sector departments.

Tony Lee said Sunwalk is focusing on fast deployment and concentrating on quality according to the ITU-T Standards. “We are always committed to the best services in Pakistan”, he said.

Two months ago, Sunwalk Group Chairman Hou Xing Wang told Federal Minister for IT and Telecom Aminul Haque in a meeting Sunwalk Group will soon start laying fiber cable across the country with substantial investment.

According to an official statement about the project, Ms Afshaan Malik, Chief Business Officer of Sunwalk Group Pakistan, said keeping in view Pak-China long-term strategic relationships, Sunwalk has fulfilled its promise by initiating the national fiber backbone project. Sunwalk is committed to providing optic cable to the people of Pakistan, she said.

In this connection, groundbreaking of Phase-1 (Islamabad to Multan) to provide nationwide fiber backbone was done on Thursday. Afshaan further said Sunwalk is in the process of getting ROW from government departments. After getting that $100 million will be invested, she said.
Riaz Haq said…
China plans $500 million subsea internet cable to rival US-backed project | Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-plans-500-mln-subsea-internet-cable-rival-us-backed-project-2023-04-06/

Known as EMA (Europe-Middle East-Asia), the proposed cable would link Hong Kong to China’s island province of Hainan, before snaking its way to Singapore, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France, the four people said. They asked not to be named because they were not allowed to discuss potential trade secrets.

The cable, which would cost approximately $500 million to complete, would be manufactured and laid by China’s HMN Technologies Co Ltd, a fast-growing cable firm whose predecessor company was majority-owned by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the people said.

---------

SINGAPORE, April 6 (Reuters) - Chinese state-owned telecom firms are developing a $500 million undersea fiber-optic internet cable network that would link Asia, the Middle East and Europe to rival a similar U.S.-backed project, four people involved in the deal told Reuters. The plan is a sign that an intensifying tech war between Beijing and Washington risks tearing the fabric of the internet.

China's three main carriers – China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom), China Mobile Limited and China United Network Communications Group Co Ltd(China Unicom) – are mapping out one of the world’s most advanced and far-reaching subsea cable networks, according to the four people, who have direct knowledge of the plan.

-----------

They said HMN Tech, which is majority-owned by Shanghai-listed Hengtong Optic-Electric Co Ltd, would receive subsidies from the Chinese state to build the cable.

China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, HMN Tech, and Hengtong did not respond to requests for comment.

The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement to Reuters that it "has always encouraged Chinese enterprises to carry out foreign investment and cooperation" without commenting directly on the EMA cable project.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves - over internet cables

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/us-china-tech-cables/


Subsea cables, which carry the world's data, are now central to the U.S.-China tech war. Washington, fearful of Beijing's spies, has thwarted Chinese projects abroad and choked Big Tech's cable routes to Hong Kong, Reuters has learned.

It started out as strictly business: a huge private contract for one of the world’s most advanced undersea fiber-optic cables. It became a trophy in a growing proxy war between the United States and China over technologies that could determine who achieves economic and military dominance for decades to come.

In February, American subsea cable company SubCom LLC began laying a $600-million cable to transport data from Asia to Europe, via Africa and the Middle East, at super-fast speeds over 12,000 miles of fiber running along the seafloor.

That cable is known as South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 6, or SeaMeWe-6 for short. It will connect a dozen countries as it snakes its way from Singapore to France, crossing three seas and the Indian Ocean on the way. It is slated to be finished in 2025.

It was a project that slipped through China’s fingers.





A Chinese company that has quickly emerged as a force in the subsea cable-building industry – HMN Technologies Co Ltd – was on the brink of snagging that contract three years ago. The client for the cable was a consortium of more than a dozen global firms. Three of China’s state-owned carriers – China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom), China Mobile Limited and China United Network Communications Group Co Ltd (China Unicom) – had committed funding as members of the consortium, which also included U.S.-based Microsoft Corp and French telecom firm Orange SA, according to six people involved in the deal.

HMN Tech, whose predecessor company was majority-owned by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, was selected in early 2020 to manufacture and lay the cable, the people said, due in part to hefty subsidies from Beijing that lowered the cost. HMN Tech’s bid of $500 million was roughly a third cheaper than the initial proposal submitted to the cable consortium by New Jersey-based SubCom, the people said.

The Singapore-to-France cable would have been HMN Tech’s biggest such project to date, cementing it as the world’s fastest-rising subsea cable builder, and extending the global reach of the three Chinese telecom firms that had intended to invest in it.

But the U.S. government, concerned about the potential for Chinese spying on these sensitive communications cables, ran a successful campaign to flip the contract to SubCom through incentives and pressure on consortium members.

Reuters has detailed that effort here for the first time. It’s one of at least six private undersea cable deals in the Asia-Pacific region over the past four years where the U.S. government either intervened to keep HMN Tech from winning that business, or forced the rerouting or abandonment of cables that would have directly linked U.S. and Chinese territories. The story of those interventions by Washington hasn’t been previously reported.


SubCom had no comment on the SeaMeWe-6 battle, and HMN Tech did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement last year about infrastructure projects, the White House briefly noted that the U.S. government helped SubCom to win the Singapore-to-France cable contract, without giving details. China’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment. China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom and Orange did not respond to requests for comment. Microsoft declined to comment.

Undersea cables are central to U.S.-China technology competition.


Riaz Haq said…
U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves - over internet cables

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/us-china-tech-cables/


Meanwhile, American diplomats cautioned participating foreign telecom carriers that Washington planned to impose crippling sanctions on HMN Tech, a development that could put their investment in the cable project at risk. The U.S. Commerce Department made good on that threat in December 2021, citing HMN Tech’s intention to acquire American technology to help modernize China’s People’s Liberation Army.

A senior U.S. State Department official confirmed that the department had advocated through its embassies to help SubCom win the contract, including warning other countries about the security risks posed by HMN Tech. Though the cable won’t come ashore in Chinese territory, the U.S. government believed HMN Tech could insert remote surveillance equipment inside the cable, the official said without providing evidence. The Commerce Department declined to comment.

Two months later, in February 2022, SubCom announced that the cable consortium had awarded it the contract to build the SeaMeWe-6 cable. China Telecom and China Mobile, which were due to own a combined 20% of the cable, pulled out because the Chinese government wouldn’t approve their involvement in the project with SubCom as the cable contractor, three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. China Unicom remained.

China’s foreign ministry and its defense ministry, which handles questions for the People’s Liberation Army, did not respond to Reuters’ questions.

On June 26, 2022, the White House published a fact sheet citing various upcoming infrastructure projects, including the SubCom undersea cable deal. The document said the U.S. government had “collectively helped secure” the award of that contract for SubCom.

The White House did not respond to a request for further comment.

U.S.-China relations are at the lowest they’ve been in decades. The two countries have clashed on a host of issues, including China’s tacit support for Russia’s invasion of democratic Ukraine, its crackdown on Hong Kong, and the future of Taiwan, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to bring under Beijing’s control. In February, the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon that floated into American airspace. China has claimed it was a weather balloon that got blown off course and accused the Americans of overreacting.

President Joe Biden’s policies are increasingly isolating China’s high-tech sector with the aim of bringing some technology manufacturing back to America while keeping cutting-edge U.S. innovation out of Chinese hands.

Over the last year, the Biden administration has pushed through a landmark bill to provide $52.7 billion in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor production and research. The Commerce Department in December added dozens of Chinese firms producing technology such as drones and artificial intelligence chips to its so-called Entity List, which severely restricts their access to U.S. technology.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves - over internet cables

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/us-china-tech-cables/


Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, speaking in Beijing this month, said the two superpowers are destined for “conflict and confrontation” unless Washington abandons its policy of “containment and suppression” towards China.

Three companies have dominated the construction and laying of fiber-optic subsea cables for decades: America’s SubCom, Japan’s NEC Corporation and France’s Alcatel Submarine Networks, Inc.

But a seismic shift occurred in 2008 when Huawei Marine Networks Co Ltd entered the fray. Owned by Chinese telecom Huawei Technologies, the Tianjin-based company initially built small cable systems in underserved markets such as Papua New Guinea and the Caribbean.

Fast-forward 15 years and the firm, now known as HMN Tech, has become the world’s fastest-growing manufacturer and layer of subsea cables, according to TeleGeography data.

But the company’s short history has been shaped by deteriorating U.S.-China relations.

In 2019, Huawei Technologies came under fire from the administration of then-U.S. President Donald Trump. The Commerce Department banned Huawei and 70 affiliates from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without government approval.

That move was part of a global campaign by Washington and its allies to stop Huawei Technologies from building fifth-generation, or 5G, communications networks around the world due to concerns that host nations would be vulnerable to Chinese eavesdropping or cyberattacks, the details of which were revealed in a previous Reuters investigation.

Huawei Technologies said at the time that it was a private company that is not controlled by the Chinese government. Contacted for this story, Huawei Technologies said it fully divested its stake in Huawei Marine in 2020 and is no longer connected with the cable-laying company, which rebranded as HMN Tech under new Chinese ownership.

HMN Tech expanded its ambitions with the PEACE cable, which came online last year and connects Asia, Africa and Europe. The firm was poised to make another great leap with the Singapore-to-France project before SubCom snatched it away.

The following account of how that deal fell apart for the Chinese players is based on interviews with six people directly involved in the SeaMeWe-6 contract. They all asked not to be named as they were not authorized to discuss potential trade secrets or matters of national security.

Large undersea cables cost several hundreds of millions of dollars. They are usually paid for by a consortium of tech or telecom companies that can spread the cost and risks, as well as take responsibility for any cable landing that ends up in their countries.

In the case of SeaMeWe-6, there were more than a dozen companies funding the cable, and there was immediately a split in the group, which would need to reach a consensus to select a contractor for the project, the people said.

China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom were resolutely behind HMN Tech, which had come in with a bid of around $500 million. Microsoft, Orange and India’s Bharti Airtel expressed concerns about the risk of potential U.S. pushback on HMN Tech’s involvement. Still, it was hard to argue with the price. SubCom’s bid was closer to $750 million.

On a series of video calls in mid-2020, the consortium members verbally agreed that HMN Tech would build the cable. SubCom would be the reserve in case the Chinese firm pulled out or failed to deliver on the terms of its proposal.

But behind the scenes, SubCom and the U.S. government were sowing seeds of doubt about whether HMN Tech was the best company for the job.

Riaz Haq said…
U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves - over internet cables

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/us-china-tech-cables/


SubCom had already successfully applied for loans from the federal Export-Import Bank of the United States to support its bid. It also secured advocacy assistance from the Department of Commerce, which quickly mobilized U.S. embassies around the world to lean on consortium members in their host nations.

U.S. ambassadors in at least six of those countries, including Singapore, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, wrote letters to local telecom carriers participating in the deal, according to people involved. One of these letters, seen by Reuters, said picking SubCom is “an important opportunity to enhance commercial and security cooperation with the United States.”

Separately, ambassadors and senior diplomats met with executives at foreign telecom companies in at least five countries. The message: HMN Tech could be subject to U.S. sanctions in the near future. That in turn would make it difficult for the telecoms to sell bandwidth because their biggest likely customers – U.S. tech firms – wouldn’t be allowed to use the cable.

One senior Asian telecom executive recalled a meeting in mid-2020 with a top U.S. diplomat and an American digital trade attaché. The U.S. officials explained how sanctions on HMN Tech would render the cable virtually worthless, providing him a printed spreadsheet with an economic analysis showing just that.

“They said we’d go bankrupt. It was a persuasive argument,” the executive told Reuters.

Two other Asian telecom executives in the consortium told Reuters they met with both Chinese and U.S. diplomats, who urged them to back HMN Tech and SubCom, respectively.

By the end of 2020, several consortium members, including Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited, India’s Bharti Airtel, Sri Lanka Telecom, France’s Orange and Telecom Egypt, told their partners they were having second thoughts about choosing HMN Tech as a supplier, mostly over the fear of sanctions.

None of these companies responded to requests for comment.

In February 2021, with the consortium partners at loggerheads, SubCom and HMN Tech were given a chance by the group to submit a “best and final offer.” SubCom lowered its bid to close to $600 million. But HMN Tech was now offering to build the cable for $475 million.

Several consortium members, including Microsoft, Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singtel) and Orange, argued to the other participants that when the risk of sanctions was factored into the bids, SubCom was offering a better deal. The three state-owned Chinese companies strongly disagreed. The companies all declined comment.

On a tense final video call in late 2021, an executive from Singtel, the chair on the cable committee, urged the companies to vote on a final decision before the whole deal collapsed, two people who were on that call told Reuters.

China Telecom and China Mobile threatened to walk off the project, taking tens of millions of dollars of investment with them. But the majority of the consortium picked SubCom, and the two Chinese state-owned firms departed. Two new investors – Telekom Malaysia Berhad and PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (Telin) – joined the deal, and some of the original members raised their stakes to make up the shortfall, the people said.

Telekom Malaysia and Telin did not respond to requests for comment.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S. and China wage war beneath the waves - over internet cables

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/us-china-tech-cables/


In addition to the successful campaign to freeze out HMT Tech from the Singapore-to-France cable, teams across the U.S. state and commerce departments and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative once again coordinated with the White House to use diplomatic pressure to boot the Chinese firm from a project. This time it was a cable connecting the three Pacific island nations of Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia and Kiribati, according to two sources involved in that deal.

The United States, Australia and Japan announced in December 2021 that they would jointly fund a cable on the same route, known as the East Micronesia Cable. In a joint statement this month, the three said they had met on March 8 to help “push forward” on this cable, without giving a time frame.

The U.S.-China backroom brawling over undersea cables is threatening to overwhelm the subsea cable industry, which has always relied on careful diplomatic collaboration to survive, said Paul McCann, a Sydney-based subsea cable consultant.

“I've never seen such geopolitical influence over subsea cables in the 40-odd years I’ve been involved in the business,” McCann told Reuters. “It's unprecedented.”

At the heart of Washington’s newly aggressive strategy is Team Telecom. That’s the informal name for an interagency committee set up through an Executive Order signed by Trump in April 2020. The mission: safeguarding U.S. telecommunication networks from spies and cyberattacks.

Team Telecom is run by the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ). That division is headed by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen. Nominated to that position by Biden in May 2021, Olsen has worked in a string of intel posts. He served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center under former President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2014, and before that as general counsel for the National Security Agency, the U.S. spy nerve center.

The DOJ declined to make Olsen available for an interview.

While the State Department and its partners have helped to prevent China from obtaining new subsea contracts in foreign places of U.S. strategic interest, Team Telecom has focused on a purely domestic concern: stopping any cable from directly connecting U.S. territory with mainland China or Hong Kong due to worries about Chinese espionage.

To that end, the team makes cable licensing recommendations to the U.S. telecom regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Since 2020, the team has been instrumental in the cancellation of four cables whose backers had wanted to link the United States with Hong Kong, Devin DeBacker, a DOJ official and senior member of Team Telecom, told Reuters in an interview.





Hong Kong, a former British colony that transitioned to self-rule and is dubbed a “special administrative region” by China, has long been the investment gateway to the communist mainland because of its well-developed financial sector, open economy and highly-educated workforce.

However, in 2019, Beijing launched a security crackdown and increased surveillance in Hong Kong, prompting mass demonstrations. As China tightened its grip, Washington became concerned that Chinese spy agencies would intercept data on the planned undersea cables if that equipment ultimately came ashore in Hong Kong, said DeBacker, the chief of the Foreign Investment Review Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division.

“That provides a physical access point in what is effectively Chinese territory,” DeBacker said. “Because of the way that China has eroded Hong Kong's autonomy, that enabled the Chinese government to have a direct, all-access path, effectively a collection platform on U.S. persons’ data and communications.”

“The risk is real. It has materialized in the past, and what we're trying to do is prevent it from materializing in the future”


Riaz Haq said…
EIU (Economic Intelligence Unit)report

China Going Global Investment Index 2023
This year’s edition of the China Going Global Investment Index ranks 80 economies across nearly 200 indicators to identify opportunities and risk for Chinese firms and investors looking to expand globally.

A decade since Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013, Chinese firms have become formidable investors globally, and the flow of overseas investment is set to increase over the next decade.

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