With key parts of the Middle East continue to roil with civil strife, many terrestrial fiber alternatives to connect the region to Europe have been on the back burner. Nevertheless, four telecommunications companies from the Persian Gulf are planning another substantial attempt.
Vodafone Qatar, Zajil Telecom, du, and Zain are teaming up for the initial phase of the Middle East-Europe Terrestrial System, or MEETS. The goal is to strengthen the alternative routes to the choke point in the Red Sea, adding diversity and room for capacity to grow. It's another example of the growing confidence of the region's network operators, which have been taking more and more of the infrastructure they depend on into their own hands.
This phase is all about the Gulf itself though, as the four plan to activate 200Gbps of connectivity over an existing fiber route associated with the electricity network. The 1,400km route runs from Fujairah in the UAE to Kuwait, and will go live as early as the first quarter of next year.
Phase 2 will cross Iraq and Turkey, linking to Europe through Istanbul. That will be the harder part, but perhaps it will look easier next year than it does today.
For Vodafone, this isn't their only effort at a terrestrial route from the Persian Gulf to Europe. Through the C&W Worldwide purchase they have also inherited involvement in EPEG, which takes the Iranian route up through the Caucuses and the Ukraine.