Industry Thought Leadership

Investing to Bring the Belt and Road to Life

August, 2020

China Mobile International

The Belt and Road Initiative is a bold plan to promote communication and cooperation between Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Initiated by China in 2013, it is creating economic corridors that touch more than 138 countries. The idea is to build infrastructure that promotes connectivity through trade, investment and cultural exchange. And telecommunications is a key part of it.

As the China Mobile subsidiary responsible for the network operator’s international business, CMI continues to invest and innovate to extend its network resources so that companies and communities can benefit from the Belt and Road vision.

Through its investments in cable systems, data centres and cloud infrastructure, CMI is building the capability to provide high-quality communications services and solutions to people all along the Belt and Road. “We are committed to a digital future where telecommunications is a bridge that promotes the flow of people, capital and goods in a more connected world.” said Dr. Li Feng, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CMI.

Extensive global footprint: 2Africa and beyond
CMI has an extensive global footprint of more than 70 submarine and terrestrial cable systems, including nine self-built subsea cables. This enables seamless connections within and between Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, the Indian Ocean region and Europe, with links to more than 300 cities in 31 provinces and regions throughout Mainland China.

Among CMI’s recent investments is the 2Africa subsea cable being developed by a global consortium to substantially enhance connectivity across Africa and the Middle East. One of the largest subsea projects ever undertaken, the 37,000-kilometre cable will connect 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe and extend to Asia via major Europe-to-Asia subsea cables. It is due to go live in 2023/24, when it will supersede the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.

To enhance capacity, the 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM₁ from Alcatel Submarine Networks, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of eight. It will also incorporate optical switching technology for flexible bandwidth management and increase subsea cable burial depth by 50%, avoiding areas known for subsea disturbance, in order to help ensure high availability.

Growing data centre network: new U.K. hub
Customer demand for connectivity, cloud and content delivery solutions has continued to soar between Asia Pacific and Europe and also within the Middle East and Africa. Complementing its cable network, CMI is also building a global data centre network to support closer ties for businesses operating in the Belt and Road region. It opened its first data centre in Europe late last year, with a purpose-built U.K. facility that serves as an International Network Exchange hub, an Internet Data Centre and a point of presence (PoP) for CMI’s Cloud Connect platform.

The U.K. hub connects with CMI's Singapore data centre, its Global Network Centre in Hong Kong, and its extensive global mobile communications and cloud network infrastructure. CMI is currently also building dedicated data centres in Frankfurt and other locations.

Strengthening its collaboration in the Middle East, CMI has established its third PoP in Oman enabling better connectivity within and between the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. In the future, as more new cables are linked to this new PoP, CMI's improved connectivity will provide an alternative communications route through this important region.

5G roaming: driving connectivity and growth
CMI provides affordable voice and data roaming services along the Belt and Road, covering more than 90% of the region. With 26 cross-border systems, eight terrestrial cables and nine submarine cables connecting the Belt and Road region to the rest of the world, 5G is one of CMI’s growth drivers.

China Mobile Communications Group Co., Ltd. (“CMCC”) has over 70 million 5G subscribers and nearly 140,000 5G base stations built, and all 5G roaming with CMCC is supported by CMI IPX, with the existing 70 IPX-ready PoPs around the world. CMI connects more than 400 operators through peering partners, as the true IPX hub for Asia, with the most extensive IPX coverage.
CMI has optimized IoT roaming connectivity, supporting 5G roaming since last year and planning for NB-IoT roaming soon. This solution is not only one of the first to market, but also easy to implement and backed by 24x7 service support.

"CMI offers customers convenient communication services and low-latency connectivity as well as broad coverage and capacity along the Belt and Road. As a trusted and reputable wholesale provider of international connectivity, CMI has optimised its services to cater to customers’ needs. CMI strives to enhance its wholesale solutions and services to bring more value to our customers." Dr. Li Feng said.