Meta partners with Airtel to extend 2Africa Pearls cable system to India
Bharti Airtel on Monday said it will partner with Facebook-parent Meta to jointly invest in global connectivity infrastructure that will extend a subsea cable system called 2Africa Pearls to India.
Meta Platforms Inc., as the company is formally known, last year announced a new segment of 2Africa Pearls in collaboration with regional partners. When it was launched in 2020, the 37,000-km long subsea cable connected 23 countries. It has become one of the world’s longest subsea cable systems and aims to provide faster internet connectivity to almost 3 billion people by connecting Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The extended 2Africa Pearls branch will include landing locations in Oman, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan, India, and Saudi Arabia. The landing of 2Africa will improve the connectivity of fixed-line broadband internet in India.
Airtel will partner with Meta and Saudi Telecommunication Company to extend 2Africa Pearls to India. The companies will extend the cable to Airtel’s landing station in Mumbai and also pick up the dedicated capacity to further strengthen its submarine network portfolio. Bharti Airtel owns three cable landing stations, two in Chennai and one in Mumbai.
“The 2Africa cable will significantly boost India’s cable capacity and empower global hyper-scalers and businesses to build new integrated solutions and provide a high-quality seamless experience to customers,” Airtel said in a press release.
The development comes amid growing competition among Indian Telcos over undersea cable systems. In February this year, Bharti Airtel boarded the SEA-ME-WE-6 undersea cable consortium to scale up high-speed network capacity. In the same month, its competitor Reliance Jio entered into an alliance with India-Asia-Xpress (IAX) undersea cable system in collaboration with Ocean Connect Maldives.
“Subsea cables and open, disaggregated networks continue to play a huge role in the foundational infrastructure needed to support network capacity and fuel innovation. 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,” said Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Meta.
Airtel will integrate Meta’s WhatsApp within its Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) platform. With this integration, businesses will now be able to use WhatsApp’s features and reach to provide omnichannel customer engagement to enterprises.
Vani Venkatesh, CEO – of Global Business, Bharti Airtel said: “We, at Airtel, are delighted to deepen our partnership with Meta to serve India’s digitally connected economy by leveraging the technology and infrastructure strengths of both companies. With our contributions to the 2Africa cable and Open RAN, we are investing in crucial and progressive connectivity infrastructure which is needed to support the increasing demand for high-speed data in India. We look forward to working closely with Meta to deliver best-in-class digital experiences to our customers in India.”
Airtel has also signed an agreement to help increase the operational efficiency of Open RAN and facilitate energy management and automation in radio networks using advanced analytics and AI/ML models. The telecom operator said it was conducting trials for 4G and 5G Open RAN solutions on select sites in the state of Haryana and will commercially deploy the solution across several locations in India over the next few quarters.
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