Gulf Bridge International (GBI) has begun to lay down its fibre-optic submarine cables to connect all the GCC states to each other and provide connectivity to Europe, Africa and Asia.

GBI, which is the first privately held submarine cable operator in the region, is installing the cables to meet the growing demands of the region. “Our cables will offer a capacity of 3.56 terabits per second, going up to 5 terabits in some areas to meet the growing demands of traffic for the Gulf region,” says Mohamed Elagazy, GBI’s senior vice-president of international relations, business development and strategy. The company is hoping for a late August launch date.

There are landing stations in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran connecting the region to Asia via Mumbai in India and to Europe via Milan.

In Saudi Arabia, the landing station is on the eastern Gulf coast, unlike other landing stations that are based on the Red Sea coast in Jeddah. This gives better connectivity to the other Gulf and Asian countries and shortens latency times to provide faster connectivity. Each landing station will have a redundant path, so that GBI can re-route traffic if one connection fails.

“The traditional route has usually been from the Middle East to Europe. Eventually over the next few years things will move towards the East. Traffic is increasing between Middle East and Asia particularly in content and voice. Prices have been dropping as a result,” says Elagazy.

The company is operating an open access model, working with various operators in the region including Vodafone Qatar, Qatar Telecom (Qtel), Bahrain’s Batelco, the UAE’s Du, Omantel and Saudi Arabia’s STC.