LONDON, May 6 /PRNewswire/ --

Major leaders of the global telecommunications industry Tuesday (May 6) signed a construction and maintenance agreement (C&MA) to build the first direct, high-bandwidth optical-fiber submarine cable system from the United Kingdom to India. The Europe India Gateway (EIG) cable system, which will cost more than US$700 million, will significantly enhance capacity and diversity between the countries of these regions.

Sixteen telecommunications companies are investing in the project: AT&T; Bharti Airtel; BT; Cable &Wireless; Djibouti Telecom; Du; Gibtelecom; IAM; Libyan Post, Telecom and Information Technology Company; MTN Group Ltd; Omantel; PT Comunicacoes, S.A.; Saudi Telecom Company; Telecom Egypt; Telkom SA Ltd; and Verizon Business.

The EIG cable system, targeted to be operational in the second quarter of 2010, is a 15,000-kilometer (9,000-mile) system that will connect three continents. Thirteen landings are planned in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco, Monaco, France, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman, United Arab Emirates and India. In addition to serving these regions, the EIG cable system will also provide seamless interconnection with other major cable systems connecting Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. The system will utilize state-of-art next-generation technology that is designed to provide up to 3.84 terabits per second (Tbps) using dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) to provide upgradeable transmission facilities that support Internet, e-commerce, video, data and voice services.

In addition to complementing existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, the EIG cable system will provide much-needed diversity for broadband traffic currently relying largely on traditional routes from Europe to India. This is important, considering the threat of earthquakes in this region. The EIG cable system, with its large bandwidth and high-quality transmission technology, will help meet the present and future growth in telecommunications traffic between the targeted regions.

In addition to the C&MA signing, the EIG Consortium also signed a supply contract with Alcatel-Lucent and Tyco Telecommunications for the cable system's construction.

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Jo Perrin, +44-770-252-5868,, or Linda Laughlin, +1-918-590-5595,, both of Verizon Business