Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan took another step toward strengthening their telecommunication systems as top officials have inaugurated last week the construction of a fiber-optic cable line, which will link the two countries along the bottom of the Caspian Sea.
The project, which is also known as the Trans Caspian Fiber Optic (TCFO), came online last week with the participation of Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Askar Mamin and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ali Asadov in the Kazakhstani port city of Aktau.
The construction and further exploitation of the cable will be implemented by the Azerbaijani backbone internet provider, AzerTelecom and Kazakhstan’s Transtelecom and KazTransCom companies. At the same time, some of the world’s leading consulting companies are involved in the project.
In accordance with the document signed between these companies last year, a Consortium and a Joint Working Group were established to cooperate for launching the fiber-optic cable stretching over nearly 400 km (249 mi) along the bottom of the Caspian Sea. The project got significant support when the two countries' officials signed an intergovernmental agreement earlier this year that provides for joint activities by communication operators of the two countries and includes the construction of fiber optic lines, as well as their ownership and exploitation.
According to the press-service of the Kazakh Prime Minister, the cable will be commissioned by late 2021 to transmit data with a capacity of at least 4-6 terabits per second. Askar Mamin believes the Trans Caspian Fiber Optic project “will allow reaching a higher level of development of a high-speed and secure data transmission infrastructure, entering the number of leading Europe-Asia trunk routes and occupying a worthy place in world data transit.”
Meanwhile, the construction of the cable along the bottom of the Caspian Sea is a part of the Trans-Caspian ambitious project implemented by AzerTelecom within its “Azerbaijan Digital Hub” program and supposed to transform Azerbaijan into a regional digital hub.
The program is expected to improve access to the Internet and digital services for 1.8 billion people residing in the Caucasus, the Middle East, Central, and South Asia regions through Azerbaijan, a country located on the western shores of the Caspian Sea. With the transformation of Azerbaijan into a Digital Hub, Baku will be added to the world’s web map, along with London, Frankfurt, Sofia, Istanbul, Moscow, Amsterdam and Dubai.
Officials in AzerTelecom, which is the subsidiary of the country’s first mobile operator - Bakcell, believe that the program will strengthen Azerbaijan’s telecommunication system and domestic digital market. In addition, the project will boost the economy by attracting investments in the non-oil sectors, as well as develop capacity within e-services and cybersecurity.