Singapore, April 11, 2002 -- Bharti and SingTel just marked the completion of the i2i cable network, the world's largest in terms of capacity, as well as the first private cable to link India and Singapore.


To commemorate this milestone, His Excellency Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, on an official visit to Singapore, and Mr. Goh Chok Tong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, made an inaugural call via the i2i cable network to the Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri. Thiru P. S. Ramamohan Rao in Chennai.

The 3,200-km i2i cable lands in Chennai in India and Tuas in Singapore. It has been developed by Network i2i, a 50:50 joint venture between Bharti and SingTel, at a cost of US$250 million. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects between Indian and Singaporean companies.

Utilising the latest Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing technology, the 8.4 terabits cable system can support 130 million Internet dial-up connections simultaneously. Construction of the i2i cable network began in late 2000 and it will begin to carry commercial traffic within the next four weeks.

A network to support new Bharti services

Speaking at the commemoration ceremony, Mr. Lee Shine Yang, President and CEO of SingTel, said: "The i2i cable network is a product of SingTel's successful collaboration with Bharti. The cable is linked to SingTel's extensive network in the Asia Pacific and will enhance telecommunications connectivity between the Indian sub-continent and East Asia."

Mr. Lee added: "The completion of the i2i cable coincides very nicely with the recent liberalisation of India's international long distance market. The cable will support Bharti's introduction of IDD services, another important step in Bharti's vision to be a leading telecommunications service provider in India."

Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group Managing Director of Bharti Enterprises, said: "We are pleased today to reach another important milestone in our journey towards leadership. The successful completion of the submarine cable is a true testimony to the fine partnership between SingTel and Bharti. It is also a tribute to the vision of NTP '991 and our strategy to emerge as a leading integrated telecom company. The cable will create huge bandwidth capacities that will help in making the Indian business environment increase productivity and fuel economic growth."

The domestic and international long distance markets in India were liberalised on 1 April 2002. Network i2i expects this development to stimulate demand for telecommunications services.

Mr. Ng Seng Sum, CEO of Network i2i, said: "The Indian telecommunications industry has enjoyed some of the highest growth rates in Asia in recent years. The relatively low penetration rates for fixed-line and cellular services offer significant potential for growth. Continued economic development and increasing use of information technology and the Internet will fuel demand for international bandwidth."

Extension of Bharti-SingTel partnership

At the commemoration ceremony, Mr. Lee and Mr. Mittal also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), on behalf of SingTel and Bharti respectively, to extend the partnership between the two companies. As part of the MOU, SingTel and Bharti will study the possible enhancement of the i2i cable network to other parts of Asia, including the Middle East and Europe. This can be achieved either through new infrastructure or acquisition of capacity on other cable systems. The two parties will also develop joint programmes to market the i2i cable and, in support of market liberalisation in India and Singapore, enable open and non-exclusive access to the cable for all carriers in the two countries.

SingTel has invested US$650 million in the Bharti Group and presently has an effective stake of 28.5 per cent in Bharti Tele-Ventures, the listed vehicle of the Group.