In one year since it was extended to Sri Lanka, FLAG (Fiber-optic Link Around the Globe), the only terabit private undersea fibre-optic cable linking the country to the world, has grown from 66 to 87 points of presence (PoPs), and its 88th PoP is to be linked shortly, the cable s local capacity rights owner Lanka Bell announced this week.
The company said the rapid expansion of the FLAG network has opened up new markets and opportunities for businesses in Sri Lanka by offering seamless broadband connectivity and virtually limitless capacity for voice and data solutions as well as value added internet-based products and services across all continents.
Since the Sri Lanka segment of the FLAG cable system went live, the global network has grown rapidly, consolidating its status as the world s largest undersea fibre optic cable system, Lanka Bell Managing Director Prasad Samarasinghe said.
Among the new countries now directly connected to FLAG following the increase in the number of landing stations are Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Netherlands, Yemen, Sudan and Iran.
`One significant feature of FLAG is that it is the only undersea cable network that provides direct connectivity from Sri Lanka to the USA, enabling us to provide unmatchable competitive pricing to this destination,` he said. FLAG is also the only undersea cable linking Sri Lanka to Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, Sudan and Yemen.
He disclosed that already, several mobile phone companies operating in Sri Lanka are using the FLAG cable and that the company is in discussions with several other operators and hopes to serve them in the near future. `We are pleased that all operators are working closely with us, and that they acknowledge the high quality data and voice connectivity that FLAG offers,` Samarasinghe said.
`The FLAG cable has also enabled Lanka Bell to offer free internet connectivity on CDMA and dial-up connections to a subscriber base of more than 1.2 million,` Samarasinghe noted.
Pointing out that Lanka Bell s investment of US$ 27 million to link Sri Lanka to FLAG was not solely motivated by the profit potential of the exercise, he said that the primary objectives of providing this quantum leap in infrastructure capability to Sri Lanka had already been achieved through the significant changes that have taken place since FLAG went live.
`There are many examples,` he said. `We brought about a change in the IDD landscape by offering high quality voice calls to India at Rs 7 a minute and we launched an IDD payback scheme for incoming IDD calls that paid subscribers 50 cents a minute. Other service providers have been compelled to drop rates to compete.`
`The end of the war will result in more opportunities for business to expand possibilities in overseas markets, and FLAG can play a pivotal role by supporting this expansion with essential communication infrastructure,` Samarasinghe added.