Bezeq cable to link Israel to Italy
Israeli telco Bezeq International is planning a high-speed submarine cable linking Israel to Italy.
Alcatel-Lucent has been contracted to build the 2,297km system, set to be the first subsea link wholly owned by an Israeli operator. When completed, it will connect Tel Aviv to Italy and from there distribute traffic from Israel’s fast growing telecoms sector around Europe terrestrially.
Bezeq’s wider intention is for the system to play a part in establishing Israel as a key traffic hub for the eastern Mediterranean.This strategy puts the country in direct competition with others in the region who are bidding to be the route of choice for local service providers wanting improved global connectivity. Cypriot carrier Cyta is building a high-speed cable landing in Syria and Lebanon, which will take traffic on to France via Telecom Egypt’s TEN system when it launches in 2011. According to Bezeq, Israel’s fixed and mobile broadband penetration rates are growing rapidly, with subscriber numbers expected to pass five million by the end of 2010.
Isaac Benbenisti, CEO of Bezeq International said, “ The Israeli telecoms market is highly dynamic with one of the highest household broadband and mobile penetration rates in the world, leading to network convergence as more technologically diverse services become available.”
Kerem Arsal, an analyst with Pyramid Research, believes the Bezeq cable may be a direct reaction to Turk Telekom’s JADI terrestrial network: “Even if Israel were invited to connect to JADI’s fibre backbone, which will link the Middle East to Europe via Turkey, I strongly believe that it would decline,” he said.