China Telecom has signed up a Kazakh telecom firm to deliver a fast high-capacity route from Hong Kong to Europe, dubbed a new Silk Road.

Kazakhstan’s largest telecoms firm, JSC Kazakhtelecom (KT), will deliver a route from Hong Kong to Frankfurt with a latency of only 162ms, for China Telecom Global (CTG), the international arm of state-owned China Telecom. The Kazakh firm can cover about half the distance between China and Europe.

kazakhstan astana thinkstock photos cosmopol
Astana, capital of kazakhstan – Thinkstock / cosmopol

(Another) new Silk Road 

This is the first direct cooperation between CTG and KT for the Europe-Asia link, which is also known as the “Transit Silk Road”. It’s an important milestone, although in fact it replaces a similar arrangement through an intermediary, which has been in effect since 2012. 

The original Silk Road was an ancient network of international trade routes between China and the Mediterranean that circumvented lengthy sea trips by cutting across central Asia. 

Senior management from China Telecom Global and JSC Kazakhtelecom attended the signing ceremony for the new cooperation.
CTG and JSC senior management at the signing ceremony – China Telecom Global Limited

In 2013, Chinese leader Xi Jinping proposed a modern Silk Road based on fiber optic links, called the “Belt and Road” initiative  This new Silk Road aims to develop a cohesive economic area, and also includes infrastructure such as roads, railway lines, and energy and communication projects.

A number of other projects are also aiming to build links between China and Europe under the “Belt and Road” banner. Last week Chinese telco CITIC bought up the network assets of Netherlands-based LINX, including fiber links from Holland to the Baltic. 

Both companies say that this contract lays the foundation for further business collaboration in the future, and will make a significant contribution to the Belt and Road initiative. For now, CTG says it would continue working with partners for further cooperation opportunities along the route.

CTG has a stake in connectivity to many other regions too, and has subsidiaries in 31 countries and regions. According to information provided by the company, it has access to resources on 23 subsea cables, and is currently participating in the construction of more than 10 others.