India is the point of transit for every submarine cable connecting Asia with Africa and Europe via Middle East. Altogether 19 submarine cables have landed in five different Indian locations: Mumbai (11 cables), Chennai (4 cables), Cochin (2 cables), Trivandrum (1 cable) and Tuticorine (1 cable). These sparsely located landing points are good enough to make India the home of a highly resilient international connectivity. Early this week Cyclone Vardah has, however, exposed India’s, notably of Bharti Airtel’s, fragility instead.
Bharti Airtel has stakes in five submarine cable networks: i2i, SEA-ME-WE 4, EIG, I-ME-WE and AAG. All these cables, except AAG, have landed in India. SEA-ME-WE 4, EIG and I-ME-WE have landed in Mumbai while i2i and SEA-ME-WE 4 have landed in Chennai. It may be noted that SEA-ME-WE 4 has double landing locations – Mumbai and Chennai.
Therefore, it would be quite logical for Bharti Airtel to interconnect its Mumbai and Chennai cable landing facilities through underground optical fiber networks either by the national highway or by the railway track. Evidently neither has happened and the Bharti Airtel’s international connectivity was severed once the Chennai cable landing facility was damaged by Cyclone Vardah.
It’s another example of obsolete engineering doctrine that segregates the submarine and terrestrial networks.