Cable-laying works on the second submarine link to Sicily owned by Malta's quad-play communications provider GO will start at St Paul's Bay as the Italian vessel carrying out these works arrived in Malta today. The process of laying the cable between St Paul's Bay and Mazara Del Vallo, south of Palermo, will last around two weeks and the new cable system is expected to be functioning by early 2009.
The launch of the cable-laying works was marked during a press briefing held aboard the Teliri, the Italian vessel owned by Elettra, the company forming part of the international consortium - which includes also Alcatel-Lucent - which has been entrusted with this multi-million Euro project. GO's second submarine cable will be linking Malta to Italy via the pan-European network operated by Interoute, which connects 93 cities in 22 countries across over 56,000 cable kilometres of fibre. The submarine cable project is being referred to as the GO-1 Mediterranean Cable System.
The press briefing was addressed by GO Chairman Sonny Portelli and GO Chief Executive David Kay. Present during the press launch were Renzo Ravaglia, Country Manager Interoute - Italy and the Mediterranean; Francesco Fidicaro, Head of Industry & Public Sector & Malta Account Team - Alcatel-Lucent; and Andrea Ridolfi, Head of Marketing Elettra.
The cable-laying ship that will be handling GO's second international link, Teliri, is just over 111 metres long with a loading capacity of 2,500 tonnes, and a maximum crew capacity of 68 people. The vessel has already loaded the 290 km length of cable required for this project and will start lowering the cable on the seabed - with maximum depths reaching 900 metres between Malta and Sicily.
GO Chairman Sonny Portelli said GO is in the unique and enviable position of being the only communications provider in Malta which will be owning and running two international submarine cable systems, which are independent of each other.
"The new submarine cable link will have a totally different landing route and we will be utilising a different provider - Interoute. This project is of national importance and will provide resiliency and backup in such instances. As a result, GO will be the only telecoms provider in Malta to have two submarine cables to mainland Europe, and our cables will constitute 50 per cent of the four cables mentioned by the government which should be up and running by 2010," said Mr Portelli.
GO was the first telecoms company in Malta to set up an international submarine cable link to Sicily. The cable, which will continue operating independently from the new cable, started operations in 1995 and is linked to the network of Italian provider Telecom Italia. GO's first cable originates from St George's Bay and lands in Catania.
Mr Portelli said: "The company will be implementing a new submarine cable system linking Malta to Italy so that it can offer further resiliency to its existing international links by having a completely diverse route. The new submarine cable will augment GO's international capacity and cater for projected demands for broadband services which will be increasing in the coming future."
GO CEO David Kay said that with the second international submarine cable link to Sicily, GO possesses world class connectivity, which in turn allows us to provide services to the most demanding clients.
"GO's second cable infrastructure will be connected to one of the world's major broadband backbones operated by Interoute. Thanks to Interoute's extensive network all over Europe and beyond, GO's resilience and flexibility in routing its international voice and data traffic via a multitude of options will be considerable - thus providing the value-added resources required by local and international customers," Mr Kay said.
Mr Kay added that the new submarine cable network complements GO's strategy of growing its data, hosting and managed services business lines. Moreover, this project demonstrates GO's investment capacity which is linked to the country's need to become an ICT hub in the Mediterranean.
GO's Chief Technology Officer Ing. Joseph Bugeja and the Submarine Cable Project Manager Ing Mark Farrugia explained that the new, second cable will be 290 km long and will have four fibre pairs. The DWDM terminal equipment will initially be equipped for two wavelengths at 10 Gbit/s each. Compared to the 2.5 Gbit/s currently available on the existing cable, this will augment the available capacity eight times.
Mr Bugeja added that in Malta the cable will land at GO's existing premises at St. Paul's exchange whereas in Sicily it will land in a landing station provided by Interoute in Via Abetone at Mazara. From there the cable will be backhauled through Interoute's PoP in Mazara to the rest of their pan-European network. In Sicily the cable landing station will be operated and maintained by Interoute.
Interoute's network is the largest in Europe today, offering unparalleled homogeneity, reach and capacity. The company's fibre optic network consists of twelve rings connecting 93 cities in 22 countries across 56,000+ route kilometres of lit fibre and has the capacity to carry a petabit (a billion megabits per second) of traffic.
Renzo Ravaglia, Country Manager Interoute - Italy and the Mediterranean said: "Interoute is pleased to be a part of this historic venture, made possible through the EIT/Dubai partnership. With this cable, GO and Interoute will open up opportunities for Malta in the European Union, North America, the Middle East and beyond. It will physically link Malta directly into Europe's largest communications platform, making access to London, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome almost as easy as connecting Valletta and Gozo."
Alcatel-Lucent have designed and manufactured the submarine cable system, based on its dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology and cables, with the ability to be upgraded easily and cost-effectively in the future. It will also be responsible for the commissioning of the system. Elettra was responsible for the marine survey and will be laying the cable. Elettra is a Telecom Italia Group company which specializes in survey, installation and maintenance of submarine cable networks.
Andrea Ridolfi, Head of Marketing Elettra said: "Elettra offers a full range of marine activities concerning survey, installation and maintenance of submarine systems, tailored on customers' requirements. We operate a fleet of vessels equipped with state of the art technology and have successfully carried out inshore and offshore surveys for more than 55,000 kms in the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. We have also installed and repaired submarine systems in North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for about 38,000 kilometres for the main world players."
Francesco Fidicaro, Head of Industry & Public Sector & Malta Account Team of Alcatel-Lucent said: "We are providing GO with the most advanced submarine technologies that are enhancing communications around the world. We are committed to meet GO's challenges for existing and new service demands, as well as to keep pace with the fast growing broadband adoption rates of its end-users, by delivering a flexible and reliable solution."