Internet gateway and solutions provider Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) will invest $40 million in the upcoming consortium undersea cable SEA-ME-WE-4, between Europe and Asia, that is to be lighted up by the end of this year. The Tata group-controlled company has also been appointed as the network administrator for the submarine cable, while Bharti Tele-Ventures is the other Indian partner for the project. "VSNL is investing $40 million in SEA-ME-WE-4 cable system, which touches India," chairman Subodh Bhargava told shareholders at the 19th annual general meeting here today.
The estimated project cost of the cable system is around $500 million, and Bharti is expected to invest around $40 million. The proposed transoceanic cable network will have two landing stations in India, with VSNL setting up a station on the west coast in Mumbai and Bharti setting up another on the east cost in Chennai. The cable system, which is fourth in the series of SEA-ME-WE cable systems, is being constructed by a consortium of over 100 telecom companies in the world.
The consortium is led by global telephony major France Telecom and has other companies including PT Indosat, Singapore Telecom, Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Sri Lanka Telecom, Emirates Telecom and Saudi Telecom, which are also partners in the project. The 15,000-km-long cable network, with an 8x10 gbps capacity and a twin pair optical fibre cable system, would link Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Italy on its way to France.
Chairing the AGM, the first after the resignation of group chairman Ratan N Tata from its board, Bhargava said VSNL had invested over Rs 10 billion during 2004-05. The company intends to earmark a "substantial amount" for capital expenditure during this year. This would be used for expanding its international operations in countries likes South Africa and extending the company's domestic metropolitan area network and last mile connectivity. Meanwhile, shareholders suggested the name of N Srinath, who is currently executive director, to the post of managing director.
The managing director's post has been vacant after the retirement of S K Gupta. The company also appointed P V Kalyanasundaram and V R S Sampath as independent directors on the board.