There are now the following submarine cables landing in Mainland China:

Cables to the US:

  • China-US CN (retired)
  • TPE
  • NCP

Cables connecting Asia:

  • APCN-2
  • APG
  • EAC-C2C
  • SJC
  • SJC2 (2021)
  • TSE-1
  • Xiamen-Jinmen

Cables to Africa and Europe:

  • FLAG Europe-Asia
  • SMW3

The cables land at 8 submarine cable landing stations in China.

China Telecom owns three cable landing stations, including

China Unicom owns four cable landing stations, including:

China Mobile owns one cable landing stations:

  • the Lingang Cable Landing Station for NCP and SJC2 (2021);

For provision of cable-based external fixed service, an interested party is required to obtain a UCL (External) from OFTA. Apart from leasing capacity on existing submarine cables for provision of service, a holder of UCL (External) may also choose to land their own cables in Hong Kong, either by using an existing CLS or building a new CLS.

As of January 2020, there are 11 submarine cable systems connecting Hong Kong, namely, Asia Africa Europe-1 ("AAE-1"), Asia-America Gateway Cable System ("AAG"), Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 ("APCN-2"), Asia Pacific Gateway (“APG”), Asia Submarine-Cable Express ("ASE"), EAC - C2C, FLAG Europe Asia ("FEA"), FLAG North Asia Loop ("FNAL") / REACH North Asia Loop ("RNAL"), Sea-Me-We 3 ("SMW3"), South-East Asia Japan Cable System ("SJC") and TGN-Intra Asia Cable System ("TGN-IA"). Several other systems are under construction or being planned.

Cables with Intra-Asia connectivity:

  • Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 ("APCN-2"),
  • FLAG North Asia Loop ("FNAL") / REACH North Asia Loop ("RNAL"),
  • EAC-C2C,
  • TGN-Intra Asia Cable System ("TGN-IA") 
  • Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE, 2013), 
  • South-East Asia Japan Cable System (SJC, 2013)
  • Asia Pacific Gateway (APG,2016)
  • Southeast Asia–Japan 2 (SJC2, 2022)
  • Asia Direct Cable (ADC, 2022)

Cables connecting Europe, Africa and EMEA regions:

  • FLAG Europe Asia ("FEA"),
  • Sea-Me-We 3 ("SMW3"),
  • Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1,2017),

Cables connecting the United States:

  • Asia-America Gateway (AAG, 2009),
  • Pacific Light Cable Network(PLCN, 2020),
  • Hong Kong - America(HKA, under construction), 
  • Hong Kong - Guam (HK-G, under construction), 
  • Bay to Bay Express (BtoBE, pending for construction).

Cables connecting Australia:

And there are eight submarine cable landing stations (CLS) in Hong Kong, including three at Tseung Kwan O, two at Tong Fuk, and each at Deep Water Bay, Chung Hom Kok and Cape D'Aguilar respectively.

Cable Landing Stations in Hong Kong

Cable Landing Stations in Hong Kong

Due to the geography of Hong Kong, the submarine cables are landed in Hong Kong from international waters via the southeast direction. This has restricted the choice of landing sites for submarine cables even though Hong Kong has a long coastline. Currently, there are three major areas for landing of submarine cables with cable landing stations at: (1) Tong Fuk in the southern part of Lantau Island; (2) Deep Water BayCape D’Aguilar and Chung Hom Kok in the southern part of the Hong Kong Island; and (3) Tseung Kwan O in the eastern part of the New Territories.

As most of the existing submarine cables are landed at Tong Fuk and Deep Water Bay, there are advantages in having additional cables landed in new pieces of land elsewhere. It will offer the necessary physical diversity to land submarine cables at TKO (Tseung Kwan O) where accomodates many leading data centers in Hong Kong, such as HKEx, Global Switch, MEGA Plus, Hong Kong Financial Data Center, etc. 

Japan is the Hub for telecommunications in APAC region. there are more than 20 international submarine cable landing stations in Japan, with cables connecting the United Station, Australia, Russia, Pan-Asia, Europe and Africa, including:

  • 8 transpacific cables connecting the West Coast of the US: Japan-US CN, PC-1, TGN-Pacific, TPE, Unity, FASTER, NCP, Jupiter. Additionally, AJC and JGA connects Japan to Guam, the territory of the US.
  • 2 cables connecting Australia: AJC, JGA
  • 3 cable connecting Russia: RJK, RJCN, HSCS
  • 9 intra-asia cable: APCN-2, EAC-C2C, APG, ASE, FNAL/RNAL, SJC, TGN-IA, SJC2 (2022) and ADC (2022). Additionally, TPE, NCP, FASTER, Jupiter, SMW3, FLAG FEA and RJK also offer intra-asia connectivity.
  • 2 cable reaching Europe and Africa: SMW3, FLAG FEA

 

Cable Landing Stations in Japan
Cable Landing Stations in Japan

 

Cable Landing Stations and Data Centers in Tokyo Bay Area
Cable Landing Stations and Data Centers in Tokyo Bay Area

 

South Korea is home to the fastest internet in the world, and also leads in the world to launch the world’s first commercial 5G mobile network in April 2019.

KT, SK, LG U+ and Sejong are the major telecom operators in South Korea.

KT is the leader in broadband internet and international submarine cable business in South Korea, has been invested in TPE, NCP, SMW3, APG, APCN-2, etc. 

LG U Plus partners with Telstra to operate a joint venture Dacom Crossing in South Korea. LG U Plus and Telstra hold 51% and 49% shares in Dacom Crossing respectively. Dacom Crossing is landing party for EAC cable (a part of the EAC-C2C network) and FNAL/RNAL cable.

SK Broadband has invested in SJC2 cable systme and is the landing party in Busan, with half fiber pair ownership (or 9Tbps). SK Broadband will terminate its SJC2 capacity directly to carrier neutral data center in Seoul, the Seoul #3 Data Center.

Sejong Telecom partners with Telstra on C2C cable (a part of the EAC-C2C network), owns C2C cable landing station in Busan. Sejong is also a leading carrier neutral data center provider in South Korea.

Busan is the hub and gateway for subsea cable landing connecting Asia, Europe and the US.

KT, SK Broadband and Sejong have cable landing stations in Busan, APCN-2, APG, FNAL/RNAL, FLAG FEA, SJC2, ADC, NCP, R-J-K and TPE lands in Busan.

Besides Busan, there are also cable landing stations in Keoje, Taean.

Singapore is a hub in the submarine networks for connections from East Asia to South Asia,  Persian Gulf,  Mediterranean,  and Europe regions, and vice versa. Many submarine cable have been developed and are developing into Singapore.

The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) is the lead agency for facilitating the deployment of submarine cable systems into Singapore. The IMDA provides guidance to interested parties and facilitates the process for applying for the necessary permits from various authorities. a Facilities-Based Operations (FBO) licence is required to deploy the submarine cable system into Singapore.

According to the 2016 edition of the Guidelines on Deployment of Submarine Cables into Singpaore issued by IMDA, as of September 2016, Singapore is connected to 17 active submarine cable systems, with a potential bandwidth capacity of more than 410 Tbps. These 17 submarine cable systems are landed in three designated landing sites in Singapore, namely the Changi North landing site, the Tanah Merah landing site, and the Tuas landing site. All new submarine cable systems can only be deployed to designated landing sites and each landing site is available on a first-come-first-served basis. 

There are now seven cable landing stations in Singapore, including:

 

Submarine Cable Landing Sites in Singapore
Submarine Cable Landing Sites in Singapore,  Source: IMDA

 

Here is a complete list of submarine cables connecting Singapore:

Cables northeastwards to Asia

Cables westwards to South and West Asia

Cables westwards to Europe and Africa (as well as South and West Asia)

  • AAE-1(2017). The AAE-1 doesn't land in Singapore, instead in Malaysia. With terrestrial extension between Malaysia and Singapore as a part of the AAE-1 cable system, AAE-1 Singapore PoPs are located at Equinix and Global Switch data centers in Singapore 
  • SMW3
  • SMW4
  • SMW5 (2016)
  • SMW6 (2023)

Cables eastwards to Australia

Cables connecting the United Station

  • AAG
  • BtoBE (2022 or later)
  • SEA-US (2018). The SEA-US terminates in Kauditan, Indonesia, without landing in Singpaore. Combined with SEA-US, Telin's IGG and other subsea cables, the SEA-US forms an importan route connecting Singapore and the US.

 

Updated: February 2020.

There are now 15 submarine cables landing in 7 cable landing stations in Taiwan:

 

Cable Landing Stations in Taiwan

 

Global internet giants and operators have heavy investments in Taiwan. 

Google has two hyperscale data centers in Taiwan, one in Changhua County which costs US$780 million and was completed in 2013, the other in Tainan Technology Industrial Park which will cost US$850 million, with a power supply of 10MW. So, Google builds two subsea cable connecting Taiwan and the US, FASTER and PLCN. Google also acquies huge capacity on other subsea cables connectign Taiwan.

Facebook has significant investment on subsea cables connecting Taiwan, including APGSJC2 and HKA. Especially, Facebook owns 4 out of the six fiber pairs on HKA Toucheng/Taiwan Branch. 

Besides local operators including Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone Telecom (NCIC), etc., Telstra represents a key player on submarine cable business in Taiwan, its EAC-C2C network landing in 4 cable landing stations in Taiwan, and being HKA landing party in Taiwan.

Geographically, the east and south coast of Taiwan island is of significant importance for the submarine networks, and is also a high-risk region for the submarine networks due to the characteristics of the geology of Taiwan.

The east and south of Taiwan are a complex system of belts formed by, and part of the zone of, active collision between the North Luzon Through portion of the Luzon Volcanic Arc and South China, where accreted portions of the Luzon Arc and Luzon forearc form the eastern Coastal Range and parallel inland Longitudinal Valley of Taiwan respectively. This region is encountered frequent seismic faults which may caused serious harmful impact to the submarine networks. For example, the magnitude 7.0 Hengchun Earthquake in December 2006 resulted in 18 cable cuts in 8 submarine cable systems, atastrophically disrupted Internet services in Asia and Pan-Pacific regions.

The Philippines takes an important position in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry worldwide. Submarine networks serve as critical components to the BPO industry, providing reliable and diverse links between the Philippines and the rest of the world.

Since the acquisition of Digitel by PLDT in 2011 and the takeover of Bayantel by Globe Telecom in 2013, PLDT and Globe Telecom have formed the duopoly on international subsea cable market in the Philippines. 

In 2017,  the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the state-owned firm Bases Conversion and Development and Development Authority (BCDA) collaborated with Facebook to land PLCN in the Phillippines under the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) project which is a government initiative for the National Broadband Plan (NBP) , the first of its kind for the Philippine government to implement by building and operating its own submarine cable landing stations. The BCDA builds the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure (LBI) made up of two cable landing stations and a 250 km long cable network corridor connecting the two cable landing stations.  

There are now 10 international submarine cable systems landing 9 cable landing stations in the Philippines.

PLDT's cable landing stations include:

Globe Telecom's cable landing stations include:

BCDA's cable landing stations include:

DICT has signed agreement to offer its cable landing facilities to China Telecom Global which is the third telecom operator in the Phillipines.

(Updated: Feb 2020)

Cable Landing Stations in the Philippines
Cable Landing Stations in the Philippines

There are now 9 international submarine cables landing in Malaysia, including APCN, APCN-2, AAG, SMW3, SMW4, FEA, and several cables between Malaysia and Indonesia such as Batam-Dumai-Melaka (BDM) Cable System, Dumai Malaka Cable System (DMCS) and Batam-Rengit Cable System (BRCS).

There are three cable landing sites in Vietnam, and six in-service submarine cable systems connecting Vietnam, two new cables including SJC2  and ADC are under construction.

VNPT and Viettel are the dominant international submarine cable operators in Vietnam. Viettel has invested in AAG, TGN-IA, APG,AAE-1 and ADC, and hosts the cable landing station in Vietnam for AAE-1 with its US$50 million investment in the AAE-1 cable project.

VNPT Vung Tau Cable Landing Station:

  • AAG 
  • TGN-IA
  • TVH (Tailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong)

VNPT Danang Cable Landing Station:

VNPT Quy Nhon Cable Landing Station

 

Viettel Vung Tau Cable Landing Station:

Viettel  Quy Nhon Cable Landing Station

Submarine Cables to/from India
Submarine Cables to/from India, by Suvesh Chattopadhyaya

 

Currently, there are 15 subsea cables (17 if Seacom and MENA are considered seperate cables) landing in 15 cable landing stations in 5 cities across India, in MumbaiChennaiCochinTuticorin and Trivandrum.

BSNL plans to construct new cable landing stations in Digha, Cochin, and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. IOX will construct a new cable landing station at Puducherry. Reliance Jio is planning for new cables and landing station.

To have a full picture about submarine cables landing in India, please read following articles by an Indian expert Mr. Suvesh Chattopadhyaya:

According to Mr. Suvesh Chattopadhyaya's contribution, here is a complete list of submarine cables landing in India:

Complete List of Submarine Cables Landing in India
Complete List of Submarine Cables Landing in India, by Suvesh Chattopadhyaya

Thailand wins a rising importance in the international telecommunicatons and Internet market with its geographical advantage and open market strategy. 

According to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), there are now 11 licensed International Internet Gateway (IIG) providers and more than 200 Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Thailand; there are also 280+ telecom service providers in Thailand, more than 60 providers are granted with international telecom services licenses for IPLC, IDD, etc. The market for international connectivity in Thailand is highly competitive, with no single telecoms company controlling a significant amount of the market.

According to NBTC, the international Internet gateway bandwidth in Thailand has been more than 10Tbps as of the end of 2019.

  • TOT, TRUE and 3BB (Jastel) are leading and dominating on fixed broadband service, accounting for a total of approximately 87% market share by the end of 2018.
  • AIS Group, DTAC Group and TRUE are leading and dominating on mobile broadband service, accounting for a total of approximately 97% market share by the end of 2018.
  • CSL-IX, Thailand-IX (CAT), AWN-IX (AIS), TIG-IX (TRUE) and Jastel-IX are leading international Internet gateway providers, each with international bandwidth of more than 1Tbps. TCCT-IX and TOT-IX each has about 700Gbps of international bandwidth. 

The majority of Thailand international bandwidth rans to either Singapore or Hong Kong via various submarine cable systems. Thailand also connects neighboring countries with cross-border terrestrial cable systems.

There are now 8 international submarine cable systems landing in Thailand, and two new cables under construction:

CAT is the leading operator for international submarine cable sytems in Thailand, being the landing party in Thailand for FEA, SMW3, SMW4, AAG, APG, TIS and ADC, owns and operates five submarine cable landing stations including

  • the Sri Racha Cable Landing Station,
  • the Petchaburi Cable Landing Station,
  • the Songkhla Cable Landing Station,
  • the Satun Cable Landing Station, and
  • the Chumphon Cable Landing Station (now for domestic cable)

TOT is the landing party in Thailand for AAE-1 and operates cable landing stations in Satun and Songkhla.

Sympony is a member of the Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable system, owns and operates the Maolee Cable Landing Station.

TRUE Corporation has invested in SJC2 cable system which is expected to be completed in 2022.

There are now three submarine cables landing in Myanmar, SEA-ME-WE 3 (SMW3), SEA-ME-WE 5 (SMW5) and Asia-Africa-Europe 1 (AAE-1).

Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), the incumbent telecom operator in Myanmar, is the landing party in Myanmar for the SMW5 and SMW3 cable systems. MPT lands SMW3 at the Pyapon Cable Landing Station, and SMW5 at the Ngwe Saung Cable Landing Station.

China Unicom is the landing party in Myanmar for the AAE-1 cable system. China Unicom lands AAE-1 at the Ngwe Saung Cable Landing Station.

NTT's subsidiary Orient Link is buildign the Myanmar/Malaysia India Singapore Transit (MIST) cable system, which is designed to land in Myanmar.

In addition to submarine cables, there are various terrestrial cables connecting Myanmar, including

  • China-Myanmar International cable
  • Myanmar-Bangladesh-India terrestrial cable
  • Myanmar-Thailand terrestrial cable
  • Myanmar-Laos terrestrial cable
Submarine Cables and Cross Border Cables in Myanmar
Submarine Cables and Cross Border Cables in Myanmar, Source: MOTC, Myanmar

 

According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Myanmar, there are four categories of telecommunication licenses: NFS(Individual)/NFS(I), NS, NFS(Class)/NFS(C) and AS.

Telecommunication Licenses in Myanmar
Telecommunication Licenses in Myanmar, Source: MOTC, Myanmar

 

NFS (I) and NS licenses require application and approval. AS and NFS (C) license require only registration. ISPs can start operating under AS license simply by reselling connectivity, and also build dark fiber etc under NFS (C).

In September 2016, the Post and Telecommunications Department (PTD) under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) of Myanmar issued Guidelines on Provision of International Gateway Services (Guidelines), accepting applications from additional foreign owned operators in a move that further liberalises the country’s International Gateway (IGW) licensing policy. In the past, the PTD did not accept applications for IGW licenses from foreign companies, except for the IGW licenses which were provided to Ooredoo and Telenor as part of the 2012-2013 tender.

Pursuant to the Guidelines, International Gateway services may only be provided when authorized by a NFS (I) license or NFS (I) license modification approved as specified in Licensing Rules. So, as a rule, one must already hold an NFS (I) license to apply for an IGW license. As of July 2020, the PTD has issued more than 70 Network Facilities Service (Individual) licenses to domestic and international carriers.

The authorized IGW licensee may construct and operate, on a non-exclusive basis:
(a) International transmission capacity, using any kind of network and any form of transmission technology, between places outside Myanmar and the relevant cable landing station or cross-border transit facility or radio communications facility in Myanmar;
(b) Cable landing stations or cross border transit facility or Terrestrial Cable Station;
(c) VSAT devices;
(d) International gateway facilities;
(e) Facilities ancillary to the facilities required for provision of the international gateway services, such as a customer support center, billing systems or an intelligent network platform.

 

Brunei Darussalam is shaping up as a bandwidth transit hub for the Bornean States of Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan. Terrestrial fibre optic cables connect these Bornean States to Brunei cable landing stations which then provide direct connectivity to 9 international destinations, namely Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, China and USA.

The Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) facilitates the deployment of telecommunication infrastructure and services, including submarine cables, in Brunei. An Infrastructure Provider for the Telecommunication Industry (InTi) is required to deploy a submarine cable system into Brunei.

As of January 2020, Brunei Darussalam is connected to 4 active submarine cable systems, with a potential bandwidth capacity of 10 Tbps. These 4 submarine cable systems are landed in two cable landing sites in Brunei, namely the Tungku landing site and the Telisai landing site.

There are currently two cable landing stations:

  • Tungku Submarine Cable Station
  • Telisai Submarine Cable Station

 

Cable Landing Stations in Brunei Darussalam
Cable Landing Stations in Brunei Darussalam, Source: UNN

 

There are now four submarine cables connecting Brunei:

  • AAG - Asia America Gateway cable
  • SJC - South East Asia Japan Cable
  • SMW3 - South East Asia Middle-East West Europe 3 cable
  • LBC - Labuan Brunei Cable.

Riding on the strong growth in IP-based traffic, Brunei has successfully lighted up 10 Tbps of international capacity to fuel bandwidth demand.

Brunei’s geographical location with no history of natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes, and substantially lower power costs, presented the sultanate with added advantages as a connectivity and transit hub for the underserved regions of Borneo Island and the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East Asia Growth Area)

Brunei is connected Sabah and Sarawak of Malaysia and the West Kalimantan Province of Indonesia with terrestrial connectivity via the border crossing of Sungai Tujoh, and with commercial traffic of 1 Tbps.

 

Contributed by: Marcus Ang, et al., UNN

There are five cable landing stations in Sri Lanka, owned by three telecom operators: Sri Lanka Telecom, Lanka Bell and Dialog Axiata.

Sri Lanka Telecom is a state-owned telecom operator in Sri Lanka. In 2013, the Sri Lanka Government awarded Sri Lanka Telecom the role of ‘national backbone network service provider’. Under this license, Sri Lanka Telecom is the sole National Backbone Network (NBN) provider in Sri Lanka, providing the fibre-optic backbone to other telecom operators in Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka Telecom has the following cable landing stations:

Sri Lanka Telecom connects its cable landing stations to international backhaul hub at the Welikada SLT premises.

 

Lanka Bell owns one cable landing station in Colombo for the landing of FALCON cable system. 

 

Dialog Axiata owns one cable landing station in Mount Lavinia, for the Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG) cable system and the Maldives Sri Lanka Cable system (MSC).

 

Cable Landing Stations and Data Centers in Sri Lanka
Cable Landing Stations and Data Centers in Sri Lanka

There are now two submarine cables landing in Bangladesh: SEA-ME-WE 4 (SMW4)  and SEA-ME-WE 5 (SMW5), at Cox's Bazaar cable landing station and Kuakata cable landing station respectively.

Both SMW4 and SMW5 are built and owned by Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited(BSCCL) . BSCCL has its head office and international internet gateway  (IIG) data center at Rahmans’ Regnum Center, 191, Tejgaon, Gulshan Link Road, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) issued draft licensing guidelines for two new submarine cable licences in early 2010. Each licensee should build a separate landing station within the general area of Khula-Patuakhali-Barisal-Chittagong, and should provide access, co-location and landing facilities to other submarine cable licensees, as and when required by the BTRC.

Besides the international submarine communication cable connecting Bangladesh, there are three terrestrial cables on India-Bangladesh boarders in Jessore, Sylhet-Comilla and Kurigram which may also bring Bangladesh into the global communication network.

According to BTRC, there are more than 20 International Gateway Way (IGW) operators in Bangladesh.

 

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is located at the heart of the Middle East and is a hub in the submarine networks in Middle East region.

Telecom sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is supervised and regulated by three key government authorities.

  • The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is the Government body that oversees all information and communication technology in the Kingdom. It is responsible for planning and implementing the Government’s policies and strategies for the telecom sector.
  • The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) is an independent Government agency with separate legal standing and financial and administrative independence. The CITC is responsible for licensing companies wishing to provide telecom and IT services in the Kingdom and for managing tariffs,
    content filtering and quality control. The CITC achieves this, in part, through hosting firewalls that block access to websites deemed offensive under the stringent censorship rules.
  • The Council of Ministers must sanction the granting of any licence under the Telecom Act.

As of 2020, there are now four major telecom operators in KSA, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Zain KSAEtihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom) and two MVNOs. In October 2016, the CITC announced an extension of licenses for telecom companies by 15 years and the issuance of unified licenses to four telecom service providers in KSA. For the extended period, telecom companies would have to pay 5% of their annual net profit as license fees. mobile operators Mobily and Zain KSA were granted unified licenses in February 2017, allowing them to offer a full range of telecommunications services, including mobile and fixed line, to compete with existing uniified licensee STC , while Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom) was kept to offer only fixed-line services. KSA opened up the telecom market to MVNOs in 2013. Currently, there are two MVNOs operating in KSA – Virgin Mobile and Jawraa Lebara – with STC and Mobily as host mobile network operators (MNOs) respectively.

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) was established in 2004 by a consortium led by Etisalat, the UAE based telecom conglomerate. Zain KSA was founded in 2008, as a subsidiary of Kuwait based Zain Group (Mobile Telecommunications Company). Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom), established in 2008, is the second  fixed-line operator in KSA. Saudi Telecom Company (STC), founded in 1998, is the incumbent telecom operator in KSA.

Additionally, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC), founded in 2005 and part of Al Mawarid Group, is a leading Saudi based telecom operators. ITC owns DSP, ISP and VSAT licenses as well as an independent infrastructure that includes two international landing stations in Al-Khobar and Jeddah connecting the FALCON cable system. ITC partners with Mobily to establish and operate the Saudi Fiber Optic Network (SNFN) connecting all cities of Saudi Arabia with fiber optic network of more than 17,000 km.

There are now 13 in-service submarine cable systems connecting Saudi Arabia, namely:

  • Saudi Arabia-Sudan-1 ( SAS-1,2003)
  • Saudi Arabia-Sudan-2 (SAS-2, 2011)
  • India-Middle East-Western Europe( IMEWE ,2009)
  • Europe India Gateway (EIG ,2011)
  • South-East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe 3( SE-ME-WE-3,1999)
  • South-East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe 4 (SE-ME-WE-4, 2005 )
  • South-East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe 5 (SE-ME-WE-5, 2016)
  • FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA , 1997)
  • FLAG Alcatel Lucent Optical Network ( FALCON, 2006)
  • Middle East North Africa (MENA , 2014)
  • Gulf Bridge International (GBI , 2012)
  • SEACOM/Tata TGN-Eurasia ( 2009)
  • Asia Africa Europe ( AAE-1, 2017)

There are also new submarine/terrestrial cable systems under construction or planning, including but not limited to:

  • 2Africa, to be landed at STS's Jeddah Cable Landing Station,
  • Blue-Raman, to cross KSA via terrestrial route.

 

Cable Landing Stations in Saudi Arabia

 

As most of the existing submarine cables are landed at Jeddah due to easy onward connectivity from Asia to Egypt & Europe.  There are advantages in having additional cables landed in new pieces of land elsewhere. As an example, SE-ME-WE-5 cable landed in Yanbu. Yanbu was selected as a SE-ME-WE-5 landing site for ease of connections to capital city Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as the fact that the seabed off its shore is very favorable for submerging the marine cable and could offer the necessary physical diversity.

 

STC operates cable landing stations in Jeddah, Al Khobar and Yanbu.

STC Jeddah Cable Landing Station houses the following cables:

  • Saudi Arabia-Sudan-1 ( SAS-1)
  • Saudi Arabia-Sudan-2 (SAS-2)
  • IMEWE 
  • EIG
  • SE-ME-WE 3
  • SE-ME-WE 4
  • FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA)
  • MENA/GBI
  • 2Africa

STC Yanbu Cable Landing Station houses SEA-ME-WE 5.

STC Al Kohbar Cable Landing Station houses FALCON and GBI cable systems.

In addtion, STC operates Mena Gateway (MG1) data center in Jeddah and the resident IX (JEDIX), as a “Data and connectivity hub” in the Middle East region. JEDIX, powered by and partnered with London Internet Exchange (LINX), is an open IX to connect all carriers, cloud and content providers in MG1 (MENA Gateway).

 

Mobily operates cable landing stations in Jeddah and Al Khobar.

Mobily Jeddash Cable Landing Station houses the following cables:

  • AAE-1
  • TGN-EA/SEACOM

Mobily Al Khobar Cable Landing Station houses TGN-Gulf.

 

Integrated Telecom Company (ITC) owns and operates two cable landing stations in Jeddah and Al Khobar for the FALCON cable system.

 

Contributed by Abdul Ravoof

There are now two submarine cable systems landing in Cambodia, the Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) and the Asia-Africa Europe 1 (AAE-1) cable systems.

The Malaysia Cambodia Thailand (MCT) cable system is the first submarine cable landing in Cambodia at the Mittapheap Cable Landing Station, put into operation in March 2017 by Telcotech. Telcotech also invested in the AAG cable system, withouth a landing in Cambodia. 

The Asia-Africa Europe 1 (AAE-1) lands at the Sihanoukville Cable Landing Station owned by Cambodia Fiber Optic Cable Network (CFOCN), in operation since November 2017.

In addition to MCT and AAE-1 submarine cables, there are various cross-border terrestrial cables with each of Cambodia’s three neighboring countries—Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. 

The Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) was established in 2012, as an independent and accountable regulator striving towards a global, competitive, stable and more self-regulating telecommunications industry in order to generate economic growth and address the social needs for the development of Cambodia. 

Generally, the TRC is responsible for policymaking. The TRC is vested with regulatory and supervisory authority including the responsibility of issuing and administering licenses and the administration of Cambodia’s radio frequency spectrum. Previously the duties of reviewing laws and regulations and managing the telecommunications market were undertaken by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC). So far, the MPTC simultaneously played the roles of policymaker, regulator and operator of Cambodia’s fixed-line telephone network.

The MPTC established Telecom Cambodia in January 2006 as a state-owned operator in Cambodia. 

Telecom Cambodia, Viettel (Cambodia) and CFOCN are the only three fiber optical cable network operators in Cambodia. 

According to the TRC, there are two international gateways, three fiber optical cable network operators, six mobile operators and 68 ISPs in Cambodia as of August 2020.

There are now 6 international submarine cable systems connecting Pakistan, including SMW3, SMW4, SMW5, IMEWE, AAE-1 and TW1. Additionally, Orient Express and PEACE cable systems are under construction.

Pakistan Telecommunications Limited Company (PTCL) is the national telecommunication company in Pakistan and  an incumbent telecommunications operator in Pakistan. 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 beach, while AAE-1 lands at Clifton beach close to Captain Farhan Ali Shaheed Park.

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 beach and terminate at Transworld's cable landing station in Karachi.

Wi-Tribe LDI Pakistan is building the Orient Express submarine cable system, to be landed in Karachi and Gwadar.

Cyber Internet Services Private Ltd. (Cybernet) is the landing party in Pakistan for the PEACE cable system, to be landed in Karachi and Gwadar.

 

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act, 1996 (Act), the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is a body corporate to regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunication systems and the provision of telecommunication services in Pakistan, in additon to other functions.

Accroding to the Act, no person shall establish, maintain or operate any telecommunication system or provide any telecommunication service unless he has obtained a licence under this Act.

Currently there are three (3) types of licenses in fixed-line services, including Long Distance and International (LDI)Fixed Local Loop (FLL) and Wireless Local Loop (WLL). 

LDI license authorizes the licensee to establish LDI (Long Distance and International) network facilities, and to offer LDI services, anywhere in Pakistan. LDI service covers the provision of end to end communication between points that are located in different regions, not in the same Local Calling Area, or located more than 25/35 Km apart and located in Pakistan with other end located outside Pakistan. 

In addition, Telecom Infrastructure Providers (TIP) license authorizes the licensee to establish and maintain the infrastructure facilities (Earth Stations, Optic Fiber Cable (OFC), Radio Communication links, Towers, Poles etc.) in Pakistan to lease, rent out or sell end to end links to telecom operators licensed by PTA. 

The Sultanate of Oman (Oman) is a rising global telecoms hub in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Oman was established in 2002, to liberalize and promote the telecommunications services in the Sultanate under the Telecommunications Act

As of 2020, the TRA has issued 4 Class I International Gateway licenses to Omantel, Nawras (now Ooredoo Oman), SamaTel (now Telecom Oman, or TeO) and Connect Arabia (known as FRiENDi). However, Only Omantel and Ooredoo Oman are operating submarine cables in Oman. There are now three broadband service providers in Oman, including Omantel, Ooredoo Oman and Awasr. And there are now five mobile operators in Oman, including Omantel, Ooredoo Oman, FRiENDi, Renna Mobile, Redbull Mobile, the latter three are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).

Omantel is the incumbent telecom operator in Oman, 70% owned by Omani Government and 30% by public. 

Ooredoo Oman, formerly known as Nawras, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecom Group (Qtel) which was rebranded as Ooredoo in 2013.  

Sama Telecommunications (Samatel) launched MVNO service in Oman in August 2010, obtained Class I International Gateway license in 2011. In February 2015, Smatel was rebranded and reluanched its MVNO service as TeO (Integrated Telecommunications Oman, or Telecom Oman), and acquired the country’s first MVNO, Renna Mobile, in June 2016. 

Connect Arabia is operated as FRiENDi Mobile, launched MVNO service in Oman in April 2009, as the first MVNO in the region, and the 3rd largest mobile service provider in Oman. FRiENDi is part of Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa.

Redbull Mobile launched MVNO service in Oman in April 2019 under the license of Majan Leading Telecommunication LLC which was established in 2012 in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

 

Omantel and Ooredoo Oman are licensed to operate submarine cables in Oman.

Omantel operates the following submarine cable landing stations:

  • Muscat Cable Landing Station, for SMW3 and Oman Australia Cable (OAC),
  • Al Bustan Cable Landing Station, for AAE-1,
  • Al Seeb Cable Landing Station, for FALCON, MENA/GBI, TW1,
  • Barka Cable Landing Station, for BBG, EIG,EPEG and Pishgaman Oman Iran (POI) Network, 
  • Salalah Cable Landing Station, for G2A and 2Africa, and possibly Oman Australia Cable (OAC) as well,
  • Diba Cable Landing Station, for OMRAN/EPEG, and
  • Khasab Cable Landing Station, for FALCON and OMRAN/EPEG.

Omantel is the landing party in Marseille (France) for the AAE-1 cable system.

In addition to cable landing stations, Omantel has partnered with Equinix to operate a carrier-neutral data center Equinix MC1 in Barka, near Muscat—the capital of Oman. Equinix MC1 is the first world-class, carrier-neutral hub in Oman where carriers, content providers and cloud providers can colocate critical IT infrastructure.

Ooredoo Oman operates one submarine cable landing station:

  • Qalhat Cable Landing Station, for TGN-Gulf and SMW5.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) benefits from well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, with high penetration rates for both mobile and fixed-line services and hubs for international submarine cables in Fujairah and Dubai.

The main regulator in the telecom sector in UAE is the federal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), based in Abu Dhabi City. The TRA was established under the 2003 Telecom Law, with a mandate to manage “every aspect of the telecommunications and information technology industries in the UAE”. This includes issuing licences, enforcing regulations, promoting e-government and the sector as a whole, establishing access management policy, resolving disputes, and ensuring service quality and access equity.

The Emirates Telecommunications Group Company(Etisalat, formerly Emirtel) was established in 1976, five years after the uniting of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, as the sector’s sole provider of telecoms services. Until 2006, Etisalat was the monopoly telecom operator in UAE.

Etisalat was also the regulator for telecom sector in UAE. Acknowledging that this created challenges for sector development, the UAE authorities began a process of market liberalisation leading to the creation of the TRA, which took over regulatory functions and licensed a second operator, the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC, now branded as du), in 2006.

Etisalat and du remain a duopoly on both mobile and fixed-line telecom services in UAE. In September 2017, EITC (du) launched Virgin Mobile as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) under EITC (du). Etisalat also launched its own MVNO Swyp a few days later.

 

Etisalat and du also became a duopoly on the operation of international submarine cables in UAE.

Fujairah is the major hub for international submarine cables landing in UAE.

Etisalat Fujairah Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cables:

  • AAE-1
  • BBG
  • FLAG-Europe Asia (FEA)
  • IMEWE
  • SMW3
  • SMW4
  • TEAMS
  • TGN-Gulf
  • TW1
  • UAE-Iran

Du Fujairah Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cables:

  • EIG
  • GBI
  • MENA
  • Orient Express

 

Dubai is another hub for international submarine cables landing in UAE.

Etisalat Dubai Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cables:

  • Fiber Optic Gulf (FOG)
  • TGN-Gulf

Du Dubai Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cable:

 

In addition, Etisalat also operates submarine cable landing stations in Abu Dhabi and Das Island for the Qatar-UAE Submairne Cable System, and cable landing stations in Sharjah, and Sir Abu Nu'Ayr Island for its domestic submarine cable, Sir Abu Nu’ayr Cable System.

 

The ‎ Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) is the Communications Regulator in the state of Qatar established by virtue of Emiri Decree (42) in 2014. The CRA regulates the Telecommunications and Information Technology sector, postal services, access to digital media and spectrum. The CRA encourages and supports an open and competitive Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector that provides advanced, innovative, and reliable communications services.

According to the CRA, as of 2020, there are three licensed Public Fixed Telecommunications Networks and Services providers in the fixed telecommunications market in Qatar, i.e., Ooredoo, Vodafone Qatar, Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN).The retail market is a duopoly, in which Ooredoo is the incumbent and Vodafone Qatar is the challenger. QNBN is the third service provider and is primarily a wholesale provider of passive fixed connectivity services. Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar form a duopoly in the mobile market in Qatar, concentrated with Ooredoo having a subscriber market share of around 63% in 2018.

Currently, only Ooredoo and Vadafone Qatar operate submarine cable landing stations in Qatar. Qatar-based Gulf Bridge International (GBI), the Middle East’s first privately owned submarine cable operator, doesn't own license to operate submarine cable landing stations in Qatar, while contracting with Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar as landing parties to land its GBI Cable System in Qatar.

Ooredoo operates the following cable landing stations:

  • Doha Cable Landing Station,for AAE-1, FALCON, Fiber Optic Gulf (FOG), GBI, Qatar-UAE, TGN-Gulf
  • Halul Island Cable Landing Station, for Qatar-UAE Submarine Cable System

 

Vodafone Qatar operates the following cable landing station:

  • North Doha Cable Landing Station, for GBI cable system

For many years, the Ministry of Communications (MoC) is the main government body responsible for the regulatory issues and services telecommunications as well as postal services.

In 2014, the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) was established as the Kuwait Telecoms Regulatory Authority, is in charge of managing fair competition, licensing, the release of spectrum, cybersecurity measures and smart government strategies, taking over the MoC's role as sector regulator.

The Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT) is another important body in ICT sector in Kuwait. the CAIT coordinates national e-services strategy and initiatives, is responsible for the Kuwait Government Online Portal, the Kuwait Government Call Centre and the Kuwait National IT Governance Framework. The CAIT has commissioned detailed surveys of the ICT sector, and established the data- and disaster-recovery centres used by various government ministries.

The mobile market in Kuwait is dominated by three providers: Zain Kuwait, VIVA and Ooredoo Kuwait. Zain is the first mobile operator in Kuwait and was founded in 1983 as MTC (Mobile Telecommunications Company), but was officially privatized in 1999 and rebranded as Zain in 2007. Ooredoo Kuwait, previously known as Wataniya, was initially launched in 1999 and acquired by Ooredoo for US$3.8 billion in 2007. VIVA is the brand of Kuwait Telecommunications Company (KSC) established in 2008, is a subsidiary of Saudi Telecom Company (STC).

The MoC is now the sole provider of fixed-line telephony and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services in Kuwait. The MoC’s fixed-line broadband services are supplied via five internet service providers (ISPs). Four of them are wire-based – Qualitynet, Fasttelco, Zajil Telecom and bOnline (formerly Gulfnet) – one wireless ISP, which is Mada.

Three ISPs were acquired by mobile operators: FAST telco, bOnline, QualityNet and Zajil-KEMS. Fasttelco was purchased by Ooredoo Kuwait in 2016, although they continue to exist as a separate legal entities. bOnline is a subsidiary of United Networks Company, part of investment outfit Kuwait Projects Company. QualityNet was 90% owned by Bahrain’s Batelco until May 2019, when the company sold its stake to VIVA for around KD28.3m ($93.2m).

Kuwait’s ISPs offer a wide variety of solutions, including the cloud, managed services and cybersecurity. QualityNet, Zajil and Ooredoo (Fasttelco) also offer co-location data centres in Kuwait City. Mada, a more specialised company, provides wireless corporate intranet and internet services, along with Integrated Services Digital Network lines.

The MoC operates the following cable landing station:

  • Kuwait City Cable Landing Station, for Fiber Optic Gulf (FOG), FALCON, GBI, Kuwait-Iran submarine cable systems. 

Zajil Telecom is the landing party in Kuwait and Bahrain for the Middle East-Europe terrestrial system (MEETS), operates its landing station in Kuwait City.

There are now only two international submarine cables landing in Iraq, i.e., FALCON and GBI cable systems.

The GBI cable system is the first subsea cable connecting Iraq, landing at the Al Faw Cable Landing Station in early 2012. The GBI cable system is privately owned and operated by Gulf Bridge International, which contracts with Iraq Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC) as the landing party in Iraq.  The GBI cable network reaches Europe through Al Faw and terrestrial cables across Iraq and Turkey.

The FALCON cable system landed at the Al Faw Cable Landing Station in 2012, following the GBI cable system. The FALCON cable system is a private cable owned by Global Cloud Xchange (formerly FLAG Telecom), which contracts with Iraqi Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC) as the landing party in Iraq.

As of 2020, Asiacell, Korek Telecom, and Zain Iraq are the three mobile operators in Iraq. Asiacell is a subsidiary of Ooredoo of Qatar, Korek Telecom is affiliated to Orange (France Telecom) and Zain Iraq is a subsidiary of Kuwait's Zain.

Iraq has a strategic location in providing regional and global connectivity for Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. It is crucial for the digital economy in Iraq to deploy sharing of optical fiber connectivity nationalwide and internationally.