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Google plans fiber-optic network to connect via Saudi Arabia and Israel for first time

Google Lays the foundation for the grid Optical Fiber Which for the first time will connect between Saudi Arabia to Israel and will open a new path for global Internet traffic, according to sources close to the issue.

The project connecting India and Europe is Google’s newest cross-world infrastructure project. The company, a subsidiary of Alphabet, competes with Facebook to build greater power for networks to support the growing demand of users for uploading videos, search results and other products. Increased connectivity between Europe and India also means that Google will be able to spread information centers around the world, and compete with Microsoft and Amazon in the market share of cloud-based computing.

Google gives its cables names after well-known scientists, and names the new path the blue Raman, after the Indian physicist Chanderskara and Nkata Raman. A project for an underwater cable the length of the Blue Raman route – more than 8,000 kilometers – is expected to cost about $ 400 million, according to calculations by Salience Consulting, a Dubai-based communications company.

Google is expected to turn to other communications companies as a partner to finance the cable, including Oman’s communications company and Telecom Italy, according to people close to the issue. These and other partnerships will help fund the construction of the cable, and will participate in the use of its fiber optic infrastructure.

People who are familiar with the Blue Raman project said that one should still be careful not to announce it as a project that will be launched. Because the cable crosses several boundaries, the project will need the approval of several regulatory agencies, and any obstacle may force Google to redesign its route. For example, the Google concern still lacks the final approval from the Saudi government to connect the Blue Raman project, insiders said.

The technology giant wants to open a new path to ease Internet bottlenecks in Egypt, said people close to the Blue Raman project. The Egyptian government charges large sums of money from communications operators to cross its territory and waters, and this could add up to about 50% to the cost of a route connecting Europe with India, according to industry consultants. The bottleneck is also increasing fears of internet outages caused because the cable was damaged by floating ships in the crowded waters of Red Sea merchant ships, they said.

“If you’re a big toll road, people will try to build around you if they can,” said Alan Maldin, an analyst at Washington-based telecommunications research firm TeleGeography.

The route will likely consist of a submarine cable between India and Saudi Arabia with connections to neighboring countries like Oman. It will pass over the earth in Jordan and Israel, probably through the existing fiber-optic infrastructure in these countries, said personalities familiar with the issue up close. From there, Google will help lay another submarine cable that will run under the Mediterranean towards Europe, they said.

The background to the Blue Raman project is a series of agreements signed through American mediation that created diplomatic ties and new trade relations between the Arab Gulf states and the State of Israel. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan have all formed ties with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, led by the Trump administration.

“It connects technology and geopolitics,” said Ivan Skandrovsky, managing partner at Sliance.

Oman supports moves to sign a peace agreement with Israel, while Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman would be happy to open commercial relations with Israeli businesses. Netanyahu met with the Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, according to two Saudi government advisers, in their first declared meeting and in the midst of an American effort to bring about normalization between the two countries, declared enemies. Senior officials from Israeli companies have traveled to Saudi Arabia quite a bit in recent years to win contracts in the kingdom, but have done so below the surface and the volume of business between the two countries is unknown.

Egypt declined to comment. Senior officials in Oman’s Ministry of Communications also did not comment. A spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Communications did not respond to a request for comment.

Israeli Minister of Communications Yoaz Handel welcomed the opportunity to strengthen ties between Israel and the countries of the region. “Wherever you lay cables above ground or underwater, you create common interests,” he said in an interview. He was unmoved by the security considerations, saying that Israel “knows how to protect its infrastructure and its information.”

Ahmad Hamdan, Jordan’s Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, said the project would provide an alternative internet route through Europe and Asia and lower connection prices. “Any cable that connects us to the world will benefit Jordan,” he said.

Cable connections through Israel are a politically problematic issue. For decades, the Gulf states did not want to do business with Israel officially, so there were no direct flights or telephone connections between the places.

Recent conflicts, such as the wars in Syria and Iraq, have increased the danger of communication disruptions in the lanes passing through these countries. U.S. sanctions on Iran have limited the ability of companies to make connections from India to Europe through Iran. All this left Egypt as the only option.

Some of the Internet traffic passes through networks of telephone operators from the Gulf states through Jordan and Israel and on to Europe, industry consultants said. But the Blue Herman project will be the first direct connection with the ability to transmit very terabits per second, they said.

Google is considering a separate connection between India and Europe via Egypt that could in the future connect to the Blue Raman project, said a person familiar with the company’s plans. While Google is looking to ease the congestion on the Egyptian route, its main goal is to provide a range of services and increase the volume of traffic between India and Europe.

Google is not the only company working on such connections. US-based Cinturion Corp. is planning a competing cable system, called the system via Europe and Asia, and will move from Europe via Israel before reaching India. Cinturion CEO Greg Variasco said telecom operators are looking for alternative routes around the world. “Recent political developments in the region have certainly encouraged us to take action,” he said.

Facebook is focused on its “Africa 2” project, a 37,000-kilometer-long network designed to allow a larger volume of traffic than is received from all the submarine cables coming to Africa today. The system is intended to pass through Egypt to Europe, but can also link with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.

The cables may still get entangled in regional politics. Israel and Iran built an oil pipeline on Israeli soil in the 1960s that transported Iranian oil to Europe, instead of using the Egyptian Suez Canal. But after the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the pipeline remained unused as Israel and Tehran became enemies. Recent political developments may mark a new designation for the pipeline: its Israeli operator said last month that it had signed a preliminary agreement to transfer oil from a company from the United Arab Emirates. WSJ

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