BEIJING-China-Pakistan Fiber Optic Project (CPFOP), the major project of digital connectivity between China and Pakistan, has started and for the first time fiber optic cable has become operational between the two countries.

This project is considered to be the backbone of digital connectivity and is important for the information technology exchange between China and Pakistan. The digital connectivity technology of China can now be transferred to Pakistan through fiber optics, China Economic Net (CEN) reported on Saturday.

Transformation of industrial revolution in the age of information and artificial intelligence has converged the whole world at the finger tips. In a rapidly changing arena, Pakistan has to keep pace with this ongoing revolution to reap the benefits by ensuring ample and seamless global connectivity.

In order to improve the international connectivity, special communication organization conceived an optical fiber cable link with China to provide an alternate route for national communication as well as international traffic. The project included laying of 850 km of underground and Ariel optical fiber cable from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab ultimately linking with China.

The system is supported by high capacity microwave links as backup, thus the stage was set to execute one of the most challenging and unique telecommunications and information technologies projects in the highest mountain ranges of the world. Extreme weather conditions, frequent landslides, limited deployment corridors with glaciated mountains, continuous water channels and negotiating large number of bridges and tunnels were some of the major problems.

The work was executed in most professional manner with multiple tiers of supervision and management and execution levels. To address the problems of limited deployment corridors, specialized machinery was imported to avoid damage for recently constructed roads. The work on optical fiber cable deployment through the planned route has been completed along with the installation of high-end capacity microwave transmission equipment in a record time of two years against the projected timeline of 3 years.

Besides this strategic significance, the project has broad socio economic dimensions as well, with its key role in support of other schemes being implemented under the ambit of CPEC, the optical fiber cabling has great importance for international transit traffic. Due to low latency, the project with such broad socio economic and technological dimensions is excepted to be a game changer by transforming trade corridor into digital corridor.

The Pak-China fiber optic cable is to be laid along three main routes of CPEC, including railway tracks. The project is aimed at enabling another high-speed international connection and caters to the rapidly growing Internet traffic needs of both countries. The project will help improve the telecom and ICT industry of Pakistan, promote tourism and create trading opportunities for northern areas of the country.

It will also provide the ICT infrastructure for 3G/4G services in the northern areas and enhance communication security with an alternative fiber route. CPFOP is one of the core projects, which will deliver safe route of voice traffic between both countries. CPFOP is greatly beneficial in terms of enhanced security and revenue generation.

Currently, Pakistan’s international connectivity is via submarine cables. CPFOP will provide an alternative route for international telecom traffic and also assist in achieving the rapidly growing internet traffic demand in Pakistan. It is estimated that 17 million people will get benefit from this project.

The new network will be beneficial to Pakistan by improving internet penetration and increasing speed, especially in Baluchistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, regions where internet connectivity has ranged from poor to non-existent. It should also reduce the cost of internet connections.