There are multiple pieces for the broadband and Internet in general. More so in India. Submarine cables is one piece of that puzzle and arguably the most important one. I tried to solve that piece of puzzle and here is what I found.
There are 4 major players for International bandwidth in India. VSNL/Tata, Bharti Airtel, Reliance and BSNL. Tata is the biggest player and BSNL is the smallest player. Reliance is the rising star.
India connects to the world through 4 cities Chennai, Mumbai, Cochin and Tuticorin. Needless to say these are the port cities. The cities also host the landing stations – which connect the land cables with the submarine cables.
When it comes to bandwidth there is a near monopoly by Tata and Reliance. That is the reason why MTNL recently bought bandwidth from Tata and Reliance. You might wonder how could Reliance and Tata get away with something like this when we have BSNL. Well, the government thought that the submarine cables and the landing stations is a low profitability business.
Not sure how much truth is there to the low-profitability stuff but BSNL and MTNL are relying on Reliance and Tata for the Internet backbone. BSNL has decided it is about time it build its own landing station and is planning to set-up one in West Bengal.
Here are the 8 submarine cables connecting India with details about who’s who and what’s what.
The 8 submarine cables connecting India to the world :
- SMW3w : Stands for South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe this cable connects Western Europe, Middle East and South east Asia. There are a total of 39 landing points through the cable’s journey and it touches India at Mumbai first and connects the rest of Asia through Cochin. The landing station in Mumbai is owned by VSNL/Tata.
2. SMW4 : Stands for South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe, this cable connects Western Europe, Middle East and South east Asia. It has around 17 landing points and touches India in Mumbai and Chennai. Landing station in Mumbai is owned by VSNL/Tata and landing station in Chennai is owned by Bharti Airtel.
3. SAFE : South Africa Far East Cable. This cable comes from Melkbossstrand in South Africa, linking Durban, Mauritius on the way to Cochin, India. Landing station in Cochin is owned by VSNL/Tata.
4. FLAG : Stands for Fiber Optic Link Around the Globe. This cable runs through the Suez canal connecting middle east and touches India at Mumbai. The cable network is owned by FLAG Telecom which is bought by Reliance and is now a Reliance company. The landing station in Mumbai is owned by VSNL/Tata. From Mumbai the cable goes to south east Asia.
5. i2i : Airtel SIngtel joint venture company is responsible for this 3100 km long cable from Singapore to Chennai. The landing station is in Chennai. From Singapore it will connect to SEA-ME-WE 3 and APCN 2.
6. TIC : Following the same route as i2i, TIC stands for Tata Indicom India SIngapore Cable. It connects Chennai and Singapore. TIC is owned by VSNL with the landing station in Chennai. In Singapore the landing station is in Changi. The cable is 3175 km long.
7. Falcon : Europe-Middle East- India cable with landing station in Mumbai. The cable and the landing station is owned by Reliance.
8. Indo-Sri Lanka Cable : Landing station is owned by BSNL and this cable connects Tuticorin and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Below is the list of all the cables, landing stations and the respective bandwidths. Source : Tonse Telecom.
Here is the complete map of the submarine cables across the world. The image above is a part of this map.
In addition to the 8 cables above, Bharti Airtel along with 15 telecom companies around the world is building Europe India Gateway a cable which will connect India to United Kingdom. The estimated cost of the cable is over $700 million and will stretch for 15,000 km.
Suggested Reading : 13 Telecom tower companies in India.
PS : The business line article talks about BSNL not owning any landing station but the Tonse Telecom report above thinks otherwise. I could not verify which version is true. I will update this post once I have it.