EXA Infrastructure, the largest dedicated digital infrastructure platform connecting Europe and North America, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline AG (TAP), part of the Southern Gas Corridor transporting natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, today unveiled an memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a joint venture (JV) to build a new fibre route connecting France with Turkey in a major expansion of EXA Infrastructure’s European network.
The JV will utilise a fibre optic cable already installed by TAP alongside the 878-kilometre gas pipeline, creating the only direct connection between south-east and western Europe to provide high-levels of redundancy over existing multi-stage alternative routes.
TAP has been an independent transmission system operator since late 2020. The pipeline connects with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline at the Greek-Turkish border, crosses Northern Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea before coming ashore in Southern Italy to connect to the Italian natural gas network. EXA will share access to TAP’s fibre facilities, which are separate to TAP’s gas business, along its full length. EXA and TAP expect to obtain any required clearances and the new system is expected to be operational in Q1 2023.
A resilient, high-speed and low-latency connection between south-east and western Europe has remained a missing link in the continent’s network infrastructure for more than two decades. Through the new fibre optic route, the JV will add a direct link from Marseille to Istanbul to EXA’s owned network infrastructure, with branches connecting to Athens, Sofia and Tirana. The new route will feature 36 pairs of state-of-the-art, high-capacity G652D optical fibre.
“What we’ve unveiled today is a critical component of a new digital route that links eastern and western Europe along a trade axis that goes back many centuries. This joint venture is a model for network expansion that we intend to replicate with other partners as we continue to invest in providing the best infrastructure where customers need it most,” said Martijn Blanken, CEO of EXA Infrastructure.
“The world’s largest organisations with the greatest amount of network traffic have been waiting for a fibre route between south-eastern and western Europe for years. Our agreement with TAP is a clear signal of our intention to invest in further strengthening our world-class infrastructure for customers with critical requirements across Europe,” he said.
Luca Schieppati, TAP Managing Director, commented: “More than a year since the start of operations, we have already enhanced Europe’s energy security and allowed the introduction of another cleaner energy source in the Balkans. We are pleased that through this new Joint Venture, TAP will contribute to uniting south-eastern and western Europe’s digital network, bringing benefits not only to TAP’s host countries, but also to the entire continent.”
“The demand for bandwidth continues to soar at a rapid rate around the globe. According to TeleGeography’s forecasts, the international capacity requirements for Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Albania are expected to increase 9-fold from 2022 to 2030. This new joint venture between EXA Infrastructure and TAP is a significant step in providing new infrastructure in this region to address surging demand,” said Alan Mauldin, Research Director at analyst company, TeleGeography.