Network cables and routers at a Comcast distribution center, 2014 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Equinix Partners With Oman's Largest Internet Provider for Its Third Middle East Data Center Location

Equinix and Oman's largest internet provider Omantel have created a joint venture to build a 18,600-square foot data center near Oman's capital Muscak • When completed, the colocation facility, in Equinix's third location in the Middle East, will house about 750 cabinets • Omantel has investments in 20 subsea cable systems and six landing stations in Oman, and the plan is to leverage access to intercontinental connectivity to drive business in the future data center

Equinix and Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) announced last week a joint venture to develop a new network-dense data center in the coastal city of Barka, about 70 miles from Muscak, Oman's capital.

This will be Redwood City, California-based Equinix's first data center in Oman and its first Middle East venture outside of United Arab Emirates. The expansion comes as the world's largest cloud providers -- who are one of the most important strategic customer categories for Equinix -- are starting to build out their infrastructure in the region. Amazon Web Services is building data centers in Bahrain; Microsoft is building Azure data centers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; Google Cloud Platform is said to be plotting a data center joint venture in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco. 

The partnership in Oman brings together the world's largest retail colocation provider, with facilities serving 52 markets across five continents, and Oman's primary provider of internet services. The 50/50 partnership will see each company contributing $10 million, with additional funding raised through debt financing assumed by the joint venture company.

"We are excited to work with Equinix on this project and accelerate how users experience cloud, content, and next-gen communications," Omantel CEO Talal Al Mamari said in a statement. "Today, data center infrastructure sits at the heart of global ICT and enables all of us to enjoy the cloud-based apps and services we use every day. The planned IBX [International Business Exchange] data center with Equinix in Oman represents a massive step forward for Oman and the Middle Eastern ICT markets."

Equinix will operate the data center, which is planned to eventually include 18,600 square feet of colocation space and approximately 750 cabinets. The first phase of the three-phase construction project will include 250 cabinets and is expected to be completed and operational in the first half of 2019.

Oman is strategically positioned between Asia, Africa, and Europe. According Equinix, the IBX's location will make it a regional interconnection hub for companies participating in global markets. This will be aided by the data center's location on the Gulf of Oman, which will give it connectivity to strategic cable landing stations and submarine cable systems that will terminate directly inside the facility.

"We see significant potential for Oman as a market generally and, in particular, supporting [landing-station] requirements as subsea cable momentum accelerates," Eric Schwartz, Equinix's president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said in a statement. "It's all about meeting the growing need for interconnection – private data exchange between businesses. In the digital age, companies need to reach everywhere, interconnect everyone, and integrate everything, and they need to do it out at the digital edge, where commerce, population centers, and digital ecosystems meet. Our joint venture with Omantel will do exactly that."

Besides giving Equinix a foothold in the country, Omantel brings to the table connectivity to more than 120 cities around the world. The telcom has investments in 20 submarine cable systems, leveraging six landing stations in Oman and one in France. Additionally, Omantel is an investor in the AAE-1 consortium, one of the largest and newest high-capacity submarine cables between Asia, Africa, and Europe. It's also invested in regional and international cables systems, including Europe India Gateway (EIG), Bay of Bengal Gateway (BBG), Gulf to Africa (G2A), and Silk Route Gateway-1 (SRG-1), among others.

"Omantel will be able to offer a redundant and unique latency of 160ms between Frankfurt and Singapore, two of the world's main capacity hubs accessible directly from within the new IBX data center in Oman," Equinix said.

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