The East African Submarine System (Eassy), the second high-capacity fibre-optic cable along Africa’s east coast, is live. However, local Internet users will have to wait until at least August to enjoy the benefits.
The West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC), the largest shareholder in Eassy, announced this week that the cable is ready to be tested by its owners.
Alcatel Submarine Networks, which built Eassy, will officially hand over the cable to the WIOCC board on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya.
Though the cable is live, local operators say it will take a little longer before it carries commercial traffic.
Telkom says it hopes the testing will take only two weeks and expects the cable will be able to begin carrying commercial services from as early as August.
“Owners will load traffic routes and conduct traffic tests on the cable, which typically takes several weeks, before the cable can be declared ready for commercial service,” the company says in response to a query from TechCentral.
MTN is not as optimistic as Telkom, saying it expects to begin running commercial traffic only a month later, from 1 September.
MTN’s Eassy project manager Trevor Martins says it will take some time to do the necessary tests.
Many local Internet providers hoping for a redundant link and alternative to the Seacom cable, which also on Africa’s east coast, will welcome the landing of Eassy.
A repeater failure 4,7km underwater between Kenya and India has kept Seacom offline for several weeks, forcing Internet providers to scramble for alternative capacity. Seacom says it expects to have its cable operational again by the end of this week.
In a remark clearly aimed at Seacom, WIOCC CEO Chris Wood says Eassy will be the first system to connect East African countries on a direct route to Europe.
Seacom is yet to complete its final leg through the Red Sea as it is await permits from Egypt and had been routing traffic via India from Kenya. This is the route along which the fault occurred. — Candice Jones, TechCentral