Switching works on Melita's €10 million state-of-the-art submarine fibre optic cable between Malta and Sicily have been completed and all data traffic on Melita's network has been transferred successfully from third party infrastructure to Melita's own new fibre optic cable.

I-Tech had revealed the news on February 28, 2008 that Melita was planning to have its own submarine data cable linking Malta to Sicily and the rest of the world, thus ensuring an independent international gateway for the ever-increasing demands for communication, especially internet.

Melita is therefore the third communications operator in Malta to own a submarine data cable, thus becoming independent in terms of access links to the rest of the world. It also means the company has complete control over the internet access speeds it can provide to its clients.

The laying of the 100 km cable from the Melita headend at Madliena via Baħar ic-Cagħaq to Pozzallo in Sicily started last April and was ready by the end of May. The project was entrusted to a consortium formed by NSW and Italtel Group.

Indeed the commissioning of the cable has allowed Melita to introduce, for the first time ever in the Maltese Islands, internet broadband access speeds of up to 50Mbits/s. The minimum entry speed on Melita's cable-based internet platform has also been upgraded to 5Mbits/s.

"This is yet another milestone for Melita as it represents another building block in our strategic development programme to strengthen our network and technical infrastructure in preparation for future bandwidth hungry applications across our television, internet, fixed line and mobile services. Moreover, our customers are already experiencing enhanced internet experiences as a direct result of Melita's investment," said Malcolm Briffa, Melita's head of marketing.

The upgrades are nothing short of a major breakthrough in the local broadband internet market. While users with the new 50Mbits/s service will pay the same price as the lower 30Mbits/s package they had enjoyed until now, the biggest effect is undoubtedly in the 2Mbps/s tier, the biggest one in terms of number of users, where clients will have 5Mbps/s internet experience at the same price of 2Mbps/s. They do not need to install new hardware at their home or office to experience the new super fast connections.

Melita thinks this investment is its response to the changing needs of Maltese society.

"Our lifestyles are becoming more and more dependent on technology and applications which require additional bandwidth and faster speeds to deliver optimum results. This change will impact our lifestyles positively in more ways than one," added Mr Briffa.

The last market review by the MCA has re-confirmed Melita as the largest broad- band internet service provider in Malta and Gozo with a 52 per cent market share and over 52,000 families and businesses connected to its cable internet services. In February Melita launched it mobile telephony service, thus becoming Malta's second quad player, providing fixed-line and mobile telephony, cable TV channels and internet access.

Melita's submarine cable will handle all data services and will therefore lead to an enhanced experience for all VOIP telephony, broadband and mobile users as well as corporate customers. Mobile and voice telephony users will benefit too though these services use far less capacity.

In an interview a few weeks ago, Melita's chief technical officer Simon Montanaro explained to i-Tech how Melita has used a well-distributed fibre to the feeder system from its outset in 1992. This choice, coupled with the use of reputable equipment vendors, was fundamental to provide the basis for the services that are being offered today.

Mr Montanaro said the design of Melita's hybrid fibre/coax infrastructure lends itself well for the efficient and simultaneous transmission of different services in their various forms, and has allowed the organisation a


relatively smooth upgrade path over the years. Essentially, by continually driving fibre closer to the home, Melita has been able to reduce the amount of devices between its master telecom centre in Madliena and the subscriber's home, thus increasing the capacity and reliability of the fixed network.

The commissioning of the submarine data cable has changed the weakest link, i.e. international connectivity, into a strong link that connects Melita's nation-wide network to the rest of the world through a very high-speed link on the seabed.

Melita's new internet broadband access packages are available from its outlets and from the Trade Fair at Ta' Qali.

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