SCO, PTCL sign agreement to provide connectivity between China, Pakistan

The project's total cost is projected at $44 million and 85 per cent of the loan has been provided by Exim Bank of China at a discounted rate

KARACHI: Special Communication Organisation (SCO) and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) have signed an agreement to provide connectivity between China and major international destinations transiting through Pakistan.

The signing ceremony was held at Pak-China Friendship Centre during the inauguration of Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) laid by SCO. Prime Minister of Pakistan Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk, SCO Director General Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa, PTCL President and CEO Dr Daniel Ritz, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, China Telecom Global Limited CEO Deng Xiao Feng and other dignitaries attended the prestigious ceremony.

SCO’s Pakistan-China OFC is 820-kilometre-long stretching from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab establishing new cross-border connectivity with China and is part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project led by Government of Pakistan and China.

SCO Director Pak-China OFC Col Waseem Ahmad (r) and PTCL Chief Business Services Officer Adil Rashid signed the agreement between SCO and PTCL. As part of this agreement, SCO shall provide capacities on its OFC network between Pak-China Khunjrab border and Rawalpindi, whereas PTCL shall provide connectivity from Rawalpindi to major international destinations through Karachi and Gwadar using its long-haul network infrastructure and PTCL submarine cable network.

The fibre optic cable connects Rawalpindi with Khunjerab at a height of 4,700 metres, making it the highest fibre cable project globally.

The cable will be further extended to Gwadar which will fully connect both China and Pakistan.

This is amongst the only information and communication technology (ICT) project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and is part of the early harvest programme.

The projects total cost is projected at $44 million and 85 per cent of the loan has been provided by Exim Bank of China at a discounted rate.

The engineering, procurement and construction (ECP) have been carried out by Huawei and the owner of this project is SCO.

The fibre optic pipeline project commenced in March 2016 and concluded in June this year. The cable extends over a distance of 820 km and has 26 microwave transmission nodes from Rawalpindi to Karimabad and 171 km of aerial fibre cable from Karimabad to Khunjerab as a back-up.

It will provide direct connectivity between Pakistan, Middle Asia and East Asia and reduce the possibility of disruption to international traffic.

Also, the cable would have multiple international links with the new Gwadar landing station to decrease disconnectivity problems.

On the occasion, Dr Daniel Ritz said, “PTCL has been connecting the nation since 1947 and we are glad to be part of this important initiative creating a positive regional impact. With the signing of Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable agreement, PTCL will contribute further to the economic development and prosperity of Pakistan.”

Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa also sharing his views, expressed that “Pakistan and China have a long history of friendship and brotherhood. We are happy to see that we have taken this major step to further strengthen our relationship by connecting the world through our respective countries.”

SCO and PTCL collaboration will allow Chinese carriers to connect to neighbouring countries including Iran and Afghanistan through terrestrial OFC link and major African and European destinations through PTCL submarine cables infrastructure.

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