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With two cable stations, Reliance Jio breaks Indian duopoly

Many operators have complained about high pricing by Airtel and Tata Comm, affecting overall cost of international bandwidth to and from India

Reliance Jio now owns and operates two cable landing stations, one in Chennai for the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) cable, which is already in operation, and the other planned in Versova, Mumbai, for the AAE-1 cable.

It has thus broken the duopoly of Airtel and Tata Communications in ownership of cable landing stations in the country.

A cable landing station is the place where submarine cable systems, after carrying voice and data for thousands of miles, pass them on to the domestic network. India is connected to the rest of the world by 12 submarine cable systems, which land at different locations. However, nearly 85 per cent of these landing points are owned by Tata Communications and Bharti Airtel. This allows them to control pricing.
Many operators have complained of high pricing by the two companies.

By setting up its own gateway, Reliance Jio has ensured that it has an alternate route to take voice and data traffic in and out of the country.

AAE-1 cable

In August this year, Reliance Jio received environment clearance for building the Indian part of Asia- Africa-Europe One (AAE-1) submarine cable system at Mumbai, entailing an investment of $6 million (nearly Rs 400 million).

AAE-1, the largest next-generation subsea cable system spanning around 25,000 km and linking South Asia to Africa and Europe via the Middle East, is being constructed by a consortium of 17 telcos. The Indian part of the project will be implemented by Reliance Jio.

Last December, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Environment Ministry had vetted the proposal and recommended granting the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) nod. Clearance has been given to the project, which will be located at Versova Beach, Mumbai, and constructed and operated by Reliance Jio, a senior government official said.

The company chose Versova Beach because two similar projects - Europe India Gateway (EIG) Submarine Cable Landing by Bharti Airtel Limited and Gulf Bridge International Cable System (GBICS) Submarine Cable Landing by Sifi Technologies - are already present there.

BBG cable

In April this year, Reliance Jio, a member of consortium behind the 8,100-km Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) undersea cable system, said it has launched services over the submarine network.

BBG connects India to South East Asia and the Middle East, with onward connectivity to Europe, Africa and Far East Asia via connections to other cable systems. It has an initial capacity of 9 Tbps, based on 100-Gbps wavelengths.

Other members of the consortium include Dialog Axiata, Etisalat, Omantel, Telecom Malaysia, and Vodafone. The consortium awarded a construction contract for the submarine cable systems in 2013 to Alcatel-Lucent.

The cable system has a landing station in Chennai, operated by Reliance Jio and another one in Mumbai, operated by Vodafone.

" BBG offers not just direct connectivity in and out of India through Chennai and Mumbai but also acts as a state-of-the-art 100-Gbps extension of Jio's 100-Gbps core network," said Mathew Oommen, president of Reliance Jio. "This global connectivity brings key international content hubs closer to our customers"

Based on stories in Hindu Business Line

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Indiatel provides detailed, customized reports on India-telecom-related topics, using published, available unpublished or field sources.

Illustrative topics:
# India's mobile telecom services business
# India's international & domestic bandwidth business
# India's long-distance telecom business
# India's cable TV equipment market and competition
# India's handset business
# India's telecom carrier equipment business

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