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To enhance regional connectivity and digital revolution between China and Pakistan, the Optical New Fiber Cable Project between Khunjerab to Islamabad has become operational on 12th July 2020. This project is significant for the exchange of information technology and considered a pillar of digital connectivity. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Chairperson Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa said, ‘In the next phase, the optical fiber cables will be laid down from Islamabad to Karachi and Gwadar’.
An 850km underground and Aerial optical fibers cables are laid down from Khunjerab to Islamabad ultimately linked with China. In the highest mountain ranges of the world, the aforementioned telecommunication and information technologies project is supported by high capacity microwave links. Limited deployment corridors with glaciated mountains, extreme weather conditions; continuous water channels, negotiating a large number of bridges and tunnels; and frequent landslides are taken into consideration. This project hopes to convert the trade corridor into a digital corridor under CPEC.
In the first phase, an 820 Km long optical fiber cable has been laid down between Khunjerab Pass and Rawalpindi under CPEC. 466.5 kilometers (km) of the cable passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, 287.66 km is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 47.56 km is in the province of Punjab, and 18.204 km is in Islamabad Capital Territory. The fiber cable reaches Rawalpindi City from Khunjerab. The alignment of the CPEC optical fiber cable project is Rawalpindi, Mansehra; Naran, Babusar top; Chillas, Gilgit; Karimabad, and Khunjerab. It is playing a significant role in the provision of 3G and 4G services in Gilgit-Baltistan and enables advanced telecom facilities on the route of CPEC, providing direct access to Pakistan, China; Europe, and the Central Asian countries. It also facilitates trade, boosts tourism, and creates IT awareness in the region.