Bharti, SingTel launch JV called Bharti Acquanet

DQW Bureau
05 Nov 2000

Cyber News Service

New Delhi


Bharti Enterprises, India's leading telecom conglomerate and Singapore Telecom Ltd (SingTel), Asia's leading communications company will be setting up an undersea cable venture called Bharti Acquanet. The venture, in which the Bharti Group and SingTel have an effective interest of 50 percent each, will build and operate India's first private sector undersea fiber-optic cable network.

The new company would be implementing and administering the country's first under-sea optic fiber cable with a planned investment of $650 million. This investment is in addition to its previous equity investment of $400mn in Bharti Televentures and Bharti Telecom by SingTel.

The cable route will have a wet portion at its Singapore-end and a dry dock landing station at Chennai and Singapore. The added bandwidth will enable an enhanced array of voice, data and broadband services and will create the opportunity for the setting up of Internet exchanges in the country as a result of this high-speed link.


According to Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman & Group Managing Director, Bharti Enterprises, " Bharti Aquanet underlines our commitment to improving the state of Indian telecom infrastructure and is a strategic fit for our DLD, ILD and Internet operations. With growing need for multimedia telecom system, we intend to put India on the map with this cable. This project being the first, of many operations between SingTel and Bharti, we will expand the lines of co-operation along a number of convergent platforms thereby taking continued advantage of the synergies that exist between our two groups."

The cable network will be the world's largest in terms of capacity, with a total bandwidth of 8.4 Terabits per second each. It will be able to carry more than 100 million conversations simultaneously. In Singapore, it will link to SingTel's extensive cable network to the rest of the world. This includes the C2C (city-to-city) cable network by C2C, a private submarine cable builder and operator spearheaded by SingTel; South East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE) 3 and Asia Pacific cable network (APCN) 2. A consortium consisting of Alcatel Submarine Networks of France and Fujitsu of Japan, leaders in the deployment of undersea fiber, has been selected to design, manufacture, install and commission the Singapore-Chennai cable. The value of this cable's supply contract is nearly US$250 million. Construction has commenced, and the cable is expected to start carrying commercial traffic by end-2001.

The undersea cable venture will also sublet bandwidth to other Indian operators, with the opening of the Domestic Long Distance (DLD) and International Long Distance (ILD) telecom sectors in India. This includes the entire range of Bharti Group of companies and business lines.


Adds Mittal, "The submarine cable will enable Bharti to provide pipes with the largest bandwidth to every nook and corner of India. It will benefit the software industry, call centers, dotcom companies and Internet Protocol-based industries for applications such as web hosting."

Lee Hsien Yang, President and CEO, SingTel said, "The buzzword in the infocommunications industry today is bandwidth. This cable network, when operational by the end of next year, will not only meet the needs of the customers in both countries for higher bandwidth, but provide the stimulus to drive the internet and e-commerce activities between India and Singapore, and between these two countries and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region."

The fiber-optic cable network will use the latest Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology to provide transmission facilities which can be upgraded, to ensure that it can be used for years to come. It will have a self-healing, completely redundant ring configuration for greater network resilience and route diversity.