With the ink just dried on its landmark deal in China, international cable network operator Flag Telecom is planning to make a big push to supply more bandwidth to mainland carriers as they prepare for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The company believes its optimistic market strategy is justified by the multimillion-dollar contract it signed last month with China Telecom. It is to provide China's largest communications service provider with a full-circuit, 30-gigabits per second cable connection to the United States west coast. The set-up was designed to satisfy the carrier's mid- to long-term forecast of data traffic between the two geographical markets. Flag Telecom director for Asia-Pacific sales Fabrizio Civitarese said: 'The [Beijing] Olympic Games may be a few years away, but they have already started to stimulate demand for high-quality connections between China and the rest of the world.' Mr Civitarese expected discussions with the other mainland telecommunications carriers to gather pace in the wake of the China Telecom deal. He said demand was being driven by the rapid growth of communications traffic worldwide. Also, the mainland was steadily expanding its use of bandwidth-hungry applications that carry large volumes of voice, video and other data over the internet. Flag Telecom, a subsidiary of India's Reliance Group, owns and manages an extensive optical fibre network spanning four continents that connects business markets in Asia, Europe and North America. It also owns and operates a global multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network which connects most of the world's principal international internet exchanges. MPLS technology allows for interoperability and faster data traffic between networks based on internet, asynchronous transport mode and frame relay protocols. Duncan Clark, managing director of the Beijing-based consultancy BDA China, said: 'There is growing demand for advanced data communications services from Chinese firms within the mainland and their international operations. This is an attractive new growth area.' He said the lucrative corporate data communications market in large cities had become the focus of increased competition between China Telecom and China Netcom. To meet China Telecom's requirements, Flag Telecom is to provide an integrated system based on its own North Asia Loop connection and Tyco Telecommunications' transpacific cable system. Flag Telecom chief executive Patrick Gallagher said the deal was much more than a supplier agreement, adding that it demonstrated China Telecom's confidence in Flag Telecom's ability to meet its exacting quality requirements. 'Together with Reliance and our partner suppliers, we are able to provide a global one-stop shop for bandwidth and innovative products and services - all at extremely cost-effective pricing,' Mr Gallagher said. London-based Flag Telecom, which has a customer base of more than 180 communications carriers, has been enjoying better business prospects since suffering through the global telecommunications industry slump and filing for bankruptcy in 2002. Its successful financial restructuring programme helped see it acquired last year by Reliance Gateway, part of the Reliance business conglomerate. The merger also enabled Flag Telecom to pay off the last of its debts in January. With Hong Kong as a key connection, Flag Telecom is building a new high-capacity submarine cable system to draw and convey more trade between the Middle East, China and India. The 15,000km, multi-terabit Falcon cable system is slated for service next February, but has already received interest from many of the telecoms operators serving the business centres along its route. 'This reflects the next stage of Flag Telecom's evolution and puts a focus on what will drive our operations forward,' Mr Gallagher said.