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In­vests in AAE-1 con­sor­tium


When the Asia-africa-europe 1 (AAE-1) ca­ble landed in Italy in May 2016, it also landed a huge op­por­tu­nity for op­er­a­tors in Europe and across the Mid­dle East and Asia. With al­most all of the un­der­sea ca­ble in­stalled and 15 shore-end land­ings, AAE-1 is con­firmed to start com­mis­sion­ing be­fore end 2016. When the pro­ject be­gins ser­vice in Q1 2017 it will pro­vide 25,000km of sub­sea ca­ble with an ini­tial de­sign ca­pac­ity of at least 32 to 40Tbps, in­ter­con­nect­ing Asia, Mid­dle East, Africa and Europe. AAE-1’S land­ing sta­tion es­tab­lishes this Eurasian route through Bari, on the main­land of south­ern Italy.

Why does Bari mat­ter? First, it of­fers ready-made open ac­cess in­fra­struc­ture that avoids ex­ist­ing con­gested routes and sin­gle points of fail­ure through the Si­cily Chan­nel. Op­er­a­tors with long mem­o­ries will re­call De­cem­ber 2008, when FLAG Telecom, SEA-ME-WE 4 and SEA-ME-WE 3 ca­bles were si­mul­ta­ne­ously cut, prob­a­bly by a ship’s an­chor, dis­rupt­ing 75% of Eurasian com­mu­ni­ca­tions. “The usual land­ing points in Europe are in Greece, Si­cily in Italy and es­pe­cially Mar­seille,” says Giuseppe Sini, head of Retelit’s in­ter­na­tional busi­ness unit, “While Mar­seille has be­come very im­por­tant for op­er­a­tors, it is also very crowded. Op­er­a­tors are look­ing for di­ver­sity.”

The Bari land­ing sta­tion is about much more than di­ver­sity, which is why Retelit made the de­ci­sion to be­come the only Ital­ian in­vestor in the AAE-1 con­sor­tium. For Retelit’s 18 con­sor­tium part­ners look­ing to con­nect to Europe, for its 60 in­ter­na­tional car­ri­ers cus­tomers in Europe and North Amer­ica who want to reach Asian des­ti­na­tions and for the US Depart­ment of De­fense, a strate­gic part­ner of Retelit, the AAE-1 pro­vides high qual­ity so­lu­tions to ex­ist­ing needs. Ad­di­tion­ally, for fast-grow­ing Asian op­er­a­tors look­ing for low-la­tency con­nec­tion to Europe, and for am­bi­tious OTT play­ers look­ing for flex­i­bil­ity, AAE-1 is com­ing on­line at ex­actly the time it is needed.

This Europe-asia route con­tin­ues to grow in im­por­tance. If we ex­clude Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, France and Italy, the lo­ca­tions vis­ited by AAE-1 have had in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port only 24% of the pop­u­la­tion’s con­nec­tiv­ity needs. Asia-to-europe ca­pac­ity de­mand is grow­ing at 41% per year. “AAE-1’S ca­pac­ity will be filled up quickly. Look at the growth in de­mand, es­pe­cially be­tween Europe and south east Asia,” says Sini, “We know about rapidly grow­ing es­tab­lished mar­kets in Hong Kong and China, but there are also emerg­ing mar­kets like Cam­bo­dia, Viet­nam, Myan­mar and Thai­land. For them AAE-1 is unique: it is the only pro­ject with a route all the way from Europe to Thai­land with­out a stopover.”

For Asian fi­nan­cial cen­tres, low la­tency is vi­tal. Con­nect­ing Europe’s fi­nan­cial cen­tres in Europe to Hong Kong, for ex­am­ple, us­ing AAE-1 through Bari will im­prove the round trip de­lay on the route by 10ms. With 9,000km of fi­bre op­tic ca­bles in Italy and with points of pres­ence in Frank­furt, Mi­lan and Lon­don, Retelit is al­ready the pre­ferred part­ner for op­er­a­tors who choose to route this type of high-value traf­fic through Italy.

Sini says that Retelit can now also use AAE-1 to serve the needs of an im­por­tant class of cus­tomer: the OTT ser­vice providers who want a route from south­east Asia to Europe, whose needs are of­ten not well met by legacy ca­bles. “They have com­mer­cial power, and we are car­rier neu­tral so we don’t com­pete with them. We can of­fer ser­vice to them with­out con­flict,” he ex­plains, “Of­ten OTT ap­pli­ca­tions re­quire fine-tun­ing, and we can at­tract them to Bari and onto Retelit’s mul­ti­ple 100 Gbps net­work with our flex­i­bil­ity and in­no­va­tive end-to-end net­work so­lu­tions. We can talk to them about func­tion­al­ity, per­for­mance and a cus­tomised SLA, whereas tra­di­tional ap­proach lever­ages mainly on ca­pac­ity, price and di­ver­sity.”

While it will take time for Bari to as­sume the im­por­tance of the Mediter­ranean’s es­tab­lished land­ing sta­tions, the lo­ca­tion meets needs based on in­no­va­tion, per­for­mance or sim­ply risk man­age­ment.

And with 20Tbps of ca­pac­ity ei­ther de­signed or op­er­a­tional along At­lantic and Pa­cific routes, but only 5Tbps avail­able be­fore 2016 on the fast-grow­ing Europe-asia route, the de­mand for the route will keep grow­ing. “We be­lieve Bari is a key point on that route,” says Sini, “and we want Retelit to be the key car­rier.” For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit

Giuseppe Sini: For am­bi­tious OTT play­ers look­ing for flex­i­bil­ity, AAE-1 is com­ing on­line at ex­actly the time it is needed

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