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Revolutionary Submarine Cable Unleashes 100x Faster Internet to 11 Remote Islands in Just 1,000 Days

Navodit Garg

January 23, 2024
By Navodit Garg
Director of Sales

In the last few years, India has seen a surge in data flows both inside and outside the country. As a result, it has seen massive growth in data center developments and an increase in residential and enterprise access speeds. With this growth, several new submarine cables have landed in Indian waters to provide seamless connectivity to the rest of the world.

In August 2020, the honorable Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi kicked off a specific infrastructure project called the Kochi-Lakshadweep Islands Submarine Optical Fiber Connection (KLI-SOFC), which aimed to close the digital divide that existed on 11 islands approximately 400 km off the southwestern coast of India. The project’s goal was to build a new 1870-km cable that would deliver connectivity 100x faster than the previous satellite-based services in just 1,000 days.

Kochi-Lakshadweep Islands Submarine Optical Fiber Connection (KLI-SOFC)

But this wasn’t just a project to modernize telecommunications infrastructure – the plan also called for a new low-temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) plant that converts seawater into clean drinking water, a new solar power plant, and the renovation of the region’s primary health care facility. In total, the project would facilitate government services, medical treatment, education, and digital banking on the islands and establish them as a tourist destination.

Partnering to Unleash the Power of High-Performance Submarine Connectivity

1000 days – that was the goal. In September 2021, NEC, an Infinera partner, was awarded the project by BSNL, the state-owned telecommunications provider, and planning and development started immediately.

Infinera and NEC are no strangers to each other as we have worked on similar projects in the past, and in recent years Infinera has played a major role in many submarine networks that deliver high-speed connectivity to millions of consumers, businesses, and data centers. Most notable for Infinera are the 6,600-km MAREA cable between the U.S. and Spain; the 9,400-km Asia Direct Cable (ADC) connecting China, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; the 25,000-km Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable that provides diverse, resilient connectivity across European, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern markets; and several others.

For India’s KLI submarine cable, Infinera provided the interconnect equipment needed to bring the network to life and to enable connectivity with the terrestrial network, with the proven expertise of the Infinera Services Team. This team’s work involved pre-staging and configuring equipment in Thailand, moving the equipment on boats to the islands, provisioning the equipment to BSNL’s specifications, performing interoperability testing with NEC’s submarine line-terminating equipment (SLTE), and conducting extensive stability testing on all the submarine links.

Light in the Harbor

On January 3, 2024, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the completion of the KLI submarine project on time and on budget. With this new submarine link in service, any licensed local telecommunications service provider can develop and build the local networks needed to bring high-speed connectivity to all residents and businesses. This will include new fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services and 4G and 5G mobile services.

Infinera is so pleased to have been a part of the team that was able to complete this important project for the residents of the Kochi-Lakshadweep islands. We look forward to continuing to scale and develop this high-capacity fiber network that will foster opportunities in e-governance and digital empowerment across the region.