x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Undersea link boosts Iraq internet

The connection of the first undersea internet cable serving Iraq promises faster and more reliable broadband in the war-torn nation.

The connection of the first undersea internet cable serving Iraq promises faster and more reliable broadband in the war-torn nation, says the company behind the project.

Gulf Bridge International (GBI), which recently completed a US$445 million (Dh1.63 billion) undersea cable connecting India with Italy via the Gulf and Egypt, said its cable was successfully linked to Iraq this week.

"This is the first-ever subsea cable to connect Iraq to the world," said Ahmed Mekky, the chief executive of GBI.

High-speed internet access is extremely limited in Iraq. According to GBI, broadband penetration there stands at less than 3 per cent.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, only 2.5 per cent of Iraq's population were classed as "internet users" in 2010.

Iraq's current internet connectivity is made possible via satellite and land connections to neighbouring countries, Mr Mekky said.

He said the GBI undersea cable should be active soon and would help to improve access to the internet in Iraq.

"This will likely mean significantly increased broadband access, faster connection speeds, and a more reliable network," he said.

Mr Mekky added that the undersea cable was being tested.

"Generally, these kinds of tests don't take longer than a few weeks. We will be ready for the commercial service soon," he said.

GBI has entered into deals with local telecommunications operators and related authorities in the countries served by its undersea cable.

In Iraq, it has a deal with the government-owned Iraqi Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC).

"The Iraqi Telecommunications and Post Company has signed a major capacity purchase agreement with GBI," said Mr Mekky. "The local telecoms [companies] in Iraq can have access to capacity and connectivity on the GBI cable via the ITPC landing station."

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae