UNIFI Communications (UNIFI), a leading US-based international carrier, and Alcatel-Lucent, a leading provider of end-to-end undersea cable systems today announced the signature of the Balkans-Italy Network (BIN) Phase 1 Supply Contract. Alcatel-Lucent will provide turn-key implementation of Albania’s first private undersea fiber optic cable system, which will connect Tirana, Albania to Bari, Italy. The network is expected to begin providing service by the end of 2011.
Under the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will also deploy optical equipment at the landing points of the network, which will link Italy to the newly created Balkans Internet eXchange (BIX) in Tirana. BIX is being developed by UNIFI to serve as Albania’s first fiber-connected data center providing connectivity from Albania to all of the major telecommunications hubs located in Western Europe, including Milan, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and London.
Adrian Shatku, President and CEO of UNIFI explained, “We selected Alcatel-Lucent as our system supplier because they offered a very cost-effective solution that did not require us to sacrifice anything in terms of supplier qualifications, experience, technology, or project schedule. In addition, thanks to the flexible contract options that are included, UNIFI plans to become the first provider in the region to offer 40 Gbps network technology, which provides an excellent competitive edge in the marketplace.”
UNIFI will be marketing and selling many types of network services, including wholesale Internet transport at up to Gigabit speeds, all types of other bandwidth services, and dark fiber connectivity to Albania from Italy and other parts of Europe. The UNIFI network will be built using the state-of-the-art fiber optic and Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technologies, providing virtually unlimited bandwidth capability for Albania and eventually for the entire Balkan region.
Philippe Dumont, President of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks SAS, commented: “This is a significant digital step for Albania and will lead to an exciting time for this region as IP-based services can now grow and thrive. The extra capacity, scalability to 40G and resilience provided by this new cable will help to support new business growth and should encourage investment locally and in the surrounding countries”
UNIFI now plans to focus its attention on the implementation of Phase 1 while also moving forward with plans for addressing region-wide market needs, including subsequent phases of BIN to eventually provide terrestrial connectivity into Albania’s neighboring countries of Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Such fiber links will stimulate the growth of connectivity even further into other regional markets, such as Bulgaria, Turkey, and beyond.