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Meta, Airtel, STC to extend world's longest subsea cable to India

Once complete, the undersea cable will connect three continents and measure over 45,000km

Indian telco Bharti Airtel is partnering with Meta and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to bring the world’s largest subsea cable to India.

The aim of the project is to improve India's telecoms infrastructure using the 2Africa Pearls subsea cable, which claims to be the longest of its kind and brings faster internet connectivity to over 3 billion people globally.

Airtel and Meta are set to extend the cable to Airtel’s landing station in Mumbai. The pair predict that the 2Africa cable will boost the nation's cable capacity and help hyper-scalers and businesses to create new products, as well as provide faster internet to customers.

Meta invests in subsea cables as part of its efforts to build infrastructure that carries internet traffic and brings more people online faster, it said in September 2021. The new subsea cable will connect three continents, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and once finished the total length of the system will measure over 45,000 kilometres.

The 2Africa subsea cable system is expected to provide nearly three times the total network capacity of all the subsea cables Africa uses currently, Meta said. It’s also the least-connected continent with just 25% of its 1.3 billion people being connected to the internet.

“Subsea cables and open, disaggregated networks continue to play a huge role in the foundational infrastructure needed to support network capacity and fuel innovation,” said Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Meta.

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“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Airtel to further advance the region’s connectivity infrastructure that will enable a better network experience for people and businesses across India.”

This comes as part of a new partnership between Meta and Airtel, who are collaborating to support the growth of India’s digital ecosystem.

Airtel is set to integrate Meta’s WhatsApp onto Airtel IQ, its communications platforms as a service (CPaaS) ecosystem. This offers video, messaging, and voice cloud communication which aims to help businesses change their customer engagement and increase profitability by using automation. 

Meta’s earlier subsea cable ventures include a 2021 partnership with Google to create two new cables connecting North America to Indonesia and Singapore.

This was part of an effort to improve the internet connection capacity between the two continents. The cables are named Echo and Bifrost, and will be the first to plot a new route crossing the Java Sea. It hoped that the new infrastructure would improve overall subsea data capacity across the Pacific by around 70%.

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