Pak, China optical fiber cable project inaugurated

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Project to trigger ICT revolution along CPEC route: PM

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

Pakistan-China Optical Fiber Cable Connectivity project was inaugurated by caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk at a ceremony here on Friday. The cable connects Rawalpindi with Khunjerab on the Pakistan-China border at an altitude of 4,700 meters, the highest fibre cable project in the world. Later, the cable will be extended to Gwadar, which will fully connect Pakistan and China.
It is the first project under the early harvest programme of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the only information and communication technology (ICT) project under CPEC. Total cost was estimated at $44 million and Exim Bank of China provided 85% of loan at a concessionary rate.
Construction work on the project started in March 2016 and ended in June 2018. The cable covers an area of 820 km. There are 26 microwave transmission nodes from Rawalpindi to Karimabad and 171 km of aerial fibre cable from Karimabad to Khunjerab as a back-up.
The optic fibre cable will provide direct connection between Pakistan, the Middle Asia and East Asia and minimise the risk of disruption to international traffic. It will also provide multiple international links with the new Gwadar landing station in order to reduce discontinuity issues.
The project will help improve the telecom and ICT industry of Pakistan, promote tourism and create trading opportunities for northern areas of the country. It will also provide the ICT infrastructure for 3G/4G services in the northern areas and enhance communication security with an alternative fibre route.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, the caretaker Prime Minister said the project would go a long way towards further developing telecommunication infrastructure in northern areas of Pakistan as well as along China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He said the project would provide firsthand land-based strategic communication link between Pakistan and China. He said it will also bring about an ICT (information and communication technology) revolution along the CPEC route.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan greatly values its time-tested and all weather friendship with China. He said practical implementation of CPEC projects within two years of conceptualization is manifestation of the special relationship.
Nasirul Mulk said CPEC is meant to change destiny of people of South Asia and would benefit the region comprising China, Central Asian Republics, SAARC countries and Middle-East.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan, due to its focal position in the planned corridor, can greatly benefit in terms of socio-economic and technological uplift.
He said ICT development has key role in socio-economic uplift of countries. He said the ICT infrastructure being built will play a pivotal role in meeting security requirements of CPEC projects.

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