Cisco Helps Rebuild Iraqi National Backbone With Advanced High-Speed Network

SAN JOSE, Calif., and ROME, Italy – October 18, 2016 – At the Packet Optical Network Conference (PONC) today in Rome, Cisco announced its role to restore and rebuild the Iraqi National Backbone, a multi-layer IP and optical network that spans the long terrestrial route from Iraq to Turkey.

The Iraqi National Backbone is a joint venture between Symphony and EarthLink JLT, reaching most major Iraqi cities. It will be available to the public as the new official Internet Service Provider for Iraq.

The new network is an alternative to existing submarine networks that reached the Middle East from Europe either via the Suez Canal, or by a longer route around the Horn of Africa. It will offer the highest capacity and lowest latency of any Europe-to-Middle- East communications solution. The new terrestrial route from the Kurdistan region of Iraq to Europe via Turkey also includes new long haul routes to most of the major cities throughout Iraq.

The project spotlights the benefits of third-generation multi-layer restoration algorithms, and features a mix of Cisco networking technologies including the Cisco NCS 5500 and ASR 9000 router platforms and the NCS 2000 for dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM). The entire solution is based on industry standard protocols, including WSON in the optical layer.

Cisco Software Defined Networking (SDN) coordinates restoration events between the optical and IP portions of the network. A common management solution with Cisco Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) Manager is also critical for the multi-layer network views into each event.

The IOS XR operating system powering the Iraqi Backbone network will be capable of supporting advanced operational capabilities such as segment routing, real-time model driven telemetry and standards-based programmability using NETCONF and YANG.

“I am looking at the big picture for the ICT industry, that is facing several barriers,” said Sarmad H. Ahmed, CEO, EarthLink Telecommunications Iraq. “We at EarthLink group are tackling those barriers one by one, with backbone being the most significant obstacle. This project will have positive economic impacts on local businesses and Internet applications, and will provide more than enough bandwidth to connect every town in Iraq. Regionally, the project will reduce the latency for traffic between Asia and Europe and increase route diversity for the GCC region. We went through an intensive vendor selection process for this, comparing many vendor. Cisco provided us with the most compelling and concise view of the future of cloud-scale networks.”

“Creative thinking by the leaders of Symphony and EarthLink will soon be changing the lives of the people of Iraq,” said Mike Weston, vice president, Middle East, Cisco. “The extended reach of the network and its advanced capabilities unleashes the transformational power of connectivity and sets a solid foundation for achieving Iraq’s development goals. With this project, Cisco further establishes its leadership with IP and optical networks that require multi-layer restoration and automation, and industry leading performance in long haul applications.”

The Iraqi National Backbone will soon become one of the longest in-production multi-layer restoration network environments in the world.  The project is in the install phase now and is expected to offer commercial service in March of 2017.

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