Andaman optical fiber may pitch India as alternative to China in ASEAN region

The project launched on Monday aims to provide high-speed internet to boost the island’s capabilities in terms of disaster mitigation, relief work and enable access to high-speed internet connectivity. (Twitter/Narendra Modi)

The submarine optical fibre from Chennai to Port Blair that promises fifth-generation (5G) connectivity, the latest in cellular wireless technology, to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be the first step for India to set up an alternative to China for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to gain international connectivity, experts say.

The project, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, promises a 2,300-km submarine optical fibre cable network that will connect the islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to Chennai. The submarine fibre network is estimated to cost Rs 1,224 crore and a bulk of the fibre being sourced from NEC Corporation Japan, which also provided technical assistance during the installation, said a department of telecommunications (DoT) official.

According to experts, the move will open up a host of opportunities for India in the ASEAN region, where China provides a majority of the submarine optical fibre. “This will open up more opportunities for India to interact with ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos,” said Shyamal Ghosh, former secretary, DoT.

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