The optic cable project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is to start by the end of 2018 according to reports. The project is to generate major revenue for Pakistan and provide the shortest route for Chinese telecom companies.
The project was inaugurated by the caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk a couple of weeks back but for commercial use the project will start by the end of 2018. So far, China Telecom among various Chinese telecoms have expressed their interest in diverting their telecom traffic from the undersea cable passing through India and to use the fiber optic cable that is laid between China and Pakistan.
The estimated total expenditure for the project is up to $44 million supported by 85% concessionary loan from the Exim Bank of China. The project is owned by the military-run Special Communication Organization (SCO) and its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor is Huawei.
Huawei Project Director Ashraf Malik speaking to the local newspaper about the project said, “Phone calls will come from China to Pakistan through the fibre optic cable and then they will be routed to Middle Eastern countries, Europe, Africa, Iran and Afghanistan.” He further stated that there is hope that Pakistan will attract major revenue from China.
According to him, the fiber cable is the shortest telecom route and the traffic would take less time to connect with other countries. Additionally, the telecom traffic will be cheaper compared to the cost of using the undersea cable that goes through India.
Implementing the project came with its own set of challenges as the project began from northern areas where the cable was laid under the mountains. According to Huawei Technical Director Zaki Abbas said, the challenges identified where related to lying the optics in the metropolitan city but the challenges came when they started working in the mountainous areas where they had to cut the mountains. There was fear of land-sliding during digging, due to which precautionary measures had to be taken, he said. However, the project was executed successfully without any casualty.
Furthermore, the estimated time to finish the project was three years, but work finished in one year and nine months. Although no test trials were possible due to extreme weather conditions. The labor for the project consisted of Pakistanis with no Chinese involved; the estimated number of laborers is around 1,500 to 2,000 Pakistanis.
Reference links: tribune.com.pk