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Tata Communications completes fibre optic 'ring around the world'

New fibre ring to improve latency, redundency and scalability

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Indian telecommunications company Tata Communications has announced the completion of the first round-the-world fibre optic cable network, with the addition of a final link across Egypt, connecting Europe with India.

The new 9,280km Eurasian section of the Tata Global Network (TGN-EA), which runs across the Mediterranean and the Middle East to connect Mumbai with Marseille, offers a low-latency connection with a round-trip delay (RTD) of 92 msec, and speeds of between 2Mbps and 10Gbps.

Tata now owns a complete loop around the world, which, after Marseille, runs up to the UK, across the Atlantic to the US, through the US, across the Pacific to Singapore, and then through Asia to India. The network, which is supported by secure MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) connectivity, has cost $800 million to build in total.

Announcing the news at Tata Communications’ Global Media and Analyst Summit in Dubai, the company’s CEO Vinod Kumar said that the ring allows users of Tata’s services around the world to have the maximum possible uptime.

“This ring around the world is not just a cobbled up network of strings that have been put together. This is end-to-end connectivity,” said Kumar. “What that means is we’re not dependent on other players providing links in the chain, we control the whole chain. So when you call our customer service centre, they can actually click and see the service on an end-to-end basis, and in order to fix it they don’t have to call three other candidates.

“As we’ve seen in the last several years, catastrophic events happen. Earthquakes happen, tsunamis happen, cables do get cut – the physical pieces of fibre that lie on the ocean floor,” he added. “We own each of these cable systems 100 percent, so this allows us the flexibility in terms of scaling up bandwidth, and also because we own these systems, their ability to route traffic East or West, depending on where a cut might occur.”

The company said that, unlike traditional networks which link cable landing stations, Tata’s ring offers city-to-city connections, which is cheaper, more flexible, and provides a faster time to market, as well as being easier to maintain and manage. It intends the network to cater to the increasing demand for voice, video and data services.

Tata Communications, which also operates the world’s largest subsea cable network, believes that building large-scale infrastructure is a worthwhile investment. Over the last five years, the company has invested around $4 billion in building data centres, access networks in India, submarine cable networks and creating its global network.

“We find that, when we build infrastructure, the economics are compelling,” said Kumar. “Yes there is a capital investment that is required, but between leasing infrastructure and building it on your own, the efficiency can be almost 1:50.”

He added that controlling end-to-end service quality and being able to provision speed is a powerful proposition, “because at the end of the day it’s about being in a position to offer really flexible services”.

The news follows last month’s announcement that Tata Communications has signed a multi-year technology partnership with Formula One Management, in a move that will see all of Formula One's race locations connected the Tata Global Network. Tata will also provide hosting and content delivery services for the website, allowing fans to access live commentary, race data and race edits.


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