Dhiraagu targets broadband expansion with nationwide submarine cable system

Telecommunication group Dhiraagu has claimed that the construction of a new fibre-optic submarine cable network stretching from the north to the south of the country will help aid national development as well its profits by providing improved broadband coverage to the company’s customers.

The project was unveiled yesterday at a signing ceremony held in Male’ for a US$21.7 million contract with Japanese communications groups NEC, who will be using their existing experience of working on the country’s cable system to lay 1,017 kilometers of fibre-optics beneath the sea.

The company predicts that the so-called backbone network created through completion of the cable project is expected to be in place by April 2012, accompanied by a number of parallel service extensions such as 3G usage and backup services.

Dhiraagu’s Chief Executive Ismail Rasheed told Minivan News that he believed the significant investment outlaid by the company in order to lay the new submarine cable system would be vital in extending services beyond their current limitations.

“Although we have mobile coverage in all inhabited and resort islands, we are not able to offer the same coverage for broadband internet,” he said. “The cable will enable broadband access to the entire country.”

Rasheed claimed that with the company’s current microwave system being pushed almost to its limits by demand, Dhiraagu had been encouraged to move forward with the cable network construction to aid online developments across the Maldives for services such as education, “e-medicine” and entertainment. “The network will also us to increase service capacity and eventually, we hope, make services more affordable,” he claimed.

The cable network will encompass a number of locations in the country including Haa Dhaal atoll Kulhudhuffushi, Baa atoll Eydhafushi, Hulhumale’, Alif Dhaal atoll Dhangethi, Laamu atoll Gan, Gaaf Dhaal atoll Gahdhoo, Seenu atoll Hithadhoo and Fuvahmulah.

For its own role in the project, NEC, who previously worked with Dhiraagu to set up a fibre optic cable between the Maldives and Sri Lanka in 2006, saw off competition from a tender of seven other companies to be awarded the contract.

Dhiraagu is among a number of suppliers in the country that provide broadband and 3G service along with groups like Wataniya and Raajje Online.