BRI Factsheet Series – Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable Project

The Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable project provides 3G and 4G services to Pakistan. The cable spans a distance of 2,950 kilometers, connecting Rawalpindi (Punjab) with Khunjerab (Gilgit Baltistan) at the Chinese border at a height of 4,700 metres above the sea level, northwards to Urumqi in Xinjiang Autonomous Region (China). The 820 km long Pakistan section (Phase 1) is the only Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project under the Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In a second phase, the cable will be further extended to Gwadar in Balochistan, Pakistan. The project is part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) project
Picture Credit: Pakistan Today

Project Information

Project Name
Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable Project

Type
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – (3G&4G connectivity)

Location
Gilgit Baltistan/Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Punjab/Pakistan 

BRI Corridor
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Current Status
OFC Phase I (Rawalpindi-Khunjerab) completed

Project Start
First Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with China for the establishment of a secure international OFC in April 2007

An agreement with China to implement the project was signed during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif‘s official visit to China in early July, 2013

Ground breaking ceremony, May 19, 2016

Completion Date
Phase I completed, Inauguration on July 13, 2018

Chinese Involvement
Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) has been carried out by Huawei. The Pak-China cable will be jointly operated and maintained by Special Communication Organization (SCO) of Pakistan and China Telecom.

Projected Total Project Costs
USD 44 million

Financing
85 percent of total costs financed through a concessional loan provided by the Exim Bank of China. 15 percent of total cost provided by the government of Pakistan. The project is funded within Public Sector Development Program (PSDP).

Ownership
Special Communications Organization (SCO)

Chinese Contractors
Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd (EPC)

Additional Project Information
Besides the 820-kilometre-long underground Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab the project also contains a 172-km aerial OFC backup link from Karimabad to Khunjerab. The cable will provide cross-border connectivity to Pakistan and provide China with alternate and shorter access for transit telecom traffic to Europe, Middle East and Africa. The optical fibre cable project has 26 microwave transmission nodes from Rawalpindi to Karimabad and 171 km of aerial fibre cable from Karimabad to Khunjerab as a back-up.

There are now following international cables connecting Pakistan and the world:

  1. TW1 with a design capacity of 1.28Tbps
  2. Sea-Me-We-3 with 480 Gbps in two fiber pairs
  3. Sea-Me-We-4 with a design capacity of 1.28Tbps
  4. I-ME-WE with the max capacity of 3.86Tbps
  5. AAE-1 with a capacity of 40Tbps
  6. Sea-Me-We-5 with a design capacity of 24Tbps
  7. Pak-China Optical Fiber Cable
  8. PEACE cable with design capacity of 60Tbps, to be ready for service in the 4th quarter of 2019

Belt and Road Projects (selection)

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