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FLAG Telecom, the undersea cable arm of Reliance Communications (RCOM), has awarded Japan’s Fujitsu a $1.5-billion turnkey contract for construction of a next generation network (NGN) submarine cable.

Others in the race for the mega contract were US-based Tyco Telecommunications, equipment vendor Alcatel and Japan-based NEC Corp, sources said.

NGN implies a consolidation of several transport networks, each built for a different service, into one core transport network based on internet protocol. It is one network that transports all information and services like voice, data and video by encapsulating these into packets like it is on the internet.

The NGN cable will involve construction of four new cable systems across the Mediterranean, East Africa, Asia and Pacific region. Upon completion, it will nearly double the length of existing FLAG global network from 65,000 km to 115,000 km and will expand the reach to connect 60 countries.

The project to build what is touted as the world’s largest IP network over submarine cable systems is expected to be completed by 2009-10. It will create capacity to carry 2.5 billion simultaneous voice calls, 300 million simultaneous web chats and 52 million simultaneous video chats.

FLAG NGN is expected to deliver the platform to meet the datacom requirements of over 200 international telecom, content and internet service provider customers of FLAG, 1,000 enterprise customers of recently-acquired Yipes and 850 out of 1,000 corporates in India through Reliance Communications.

It will also accelerate RCOM’s entry into the $90 billion global market for enterprise and institutional data services, an aim with which it also acquired Yipes last month. The acquisition of US-based Yipes, a provider of managed Ethernet and application delivery, was a step in RCOM’s plan to move up the value chain and closer to its customers in the global data business. Yipes will operate as a strategic business unit, fully integrated strategically and operationally within FLAG Telecom.

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