A new subsea cable connecting Sri Lanka with the Maldive Islands might turn out to be the the first leg of a new Africa-Asia cable. The US$20m, 850km cable owned by Sri Lanka Telecom and Dhiraagu Telecom of Maldives, is due to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2007.

“This cable has a 10 Gigabit capacity, but it can be expanded to a terabit because there is a possibility that we can connect to the African side, via Maurtius, Seychelles, Madagascar and also South Africa,” said the chief executive of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) Suhei Anan. Anan says such an expansion beyond the Maldives could be undertaken with Dhiraagu and African partners within five years. NEC of Japan is the lead contractor and KTS of Korea is laying the cable.

Meanwhile, Reliance Communications has sold over half the capacity on its Falcon cable in the three months since it was launched. Reliance says it has sold over 45 gigabits of the 90 gigabits lit on the 10,000 km India-Middle East submarine . The cable ultimately can be upgraded to 2.56 terabits.

Reliance’s two cable systems – Flag and Falcon – have recorded over $450m of sales in the year to date, and many of Falcon’s sales have come from incumbent operators in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.