Doubts have been cast over whether France Telecom’s Africa Coast to Europe (Ace) undersea cable will make it as far south as SA.
Latest talk is that the cable, which will terminate in France, will end at São Tomé, a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea.
The cable’s original design, which was announced last year, showed it connecting 23 countries, including SA. It’s expected to go live in the next year.
However, speculation that the cable will not extend beyond São Tomé is gaining credence with a recent press statement by an investment company funding Mauritania’s landing of the cable. The statement says the cable will connect to 20 countries along the west coast of Africa, with only the “possibility of an extension to SA”.
Sentech, believed originally the landing partner for the cable in SA, had not responded to queries from TechCentral at the time of publication. France Telecom could not be reached for comment.
Steve Song, author of a well-known African undersea cables map, has updated it to show the cable ending in São Tomé.
Ace would have followed the same course as the West African Cable System, which is already under construction. Both cables will have a design capacity of 5,1Tbit/s.
If Ace is no longer coming to SA, it may prompt investors behind MainOne, a Nigerian-led system built on open access principles, to extend their cable south to SA.
“MainOne has had plans for a phase-two extension of its cable to SA for some time,” Song says. “If Ace doesn’t extend beyond São Tomé, this may provide the incentive it requires to move forward with the second phase of the project.”
MainOne went live in July last year and links Nigeria to Portugal, with an additional landing station in Ghana. The Canary Islands, Senegal and the Ivory Coast all have branching units connected to the 6 900km cable. — Staff reporter, TechCentral