Plans to build a new submarine broadband cable from South Africa across the south Atlantic are gathering pace, with SAEx International announcing on Thursday that is has contracted Nokia’s Alcatel Submarine Networks to begin a survey.
This agreement is for a desktop study, permitting and survey activities for the new system, which will eventually link Asia, South Africa and the Americas.
The development comes just two weeks after SAEx said it had partnered with Telecom Italia’s Sparkle unit to expand the cable’s reach in the Americas on the Seabras-1 cable. That cable connects South America to the US east coast. Sparkle bought the capacity on Seabras-1 in 2016 as part of a US$300-million investment.
Seabras-1 is the same cable system that a rival prospective cable, SABR — to be built by Seaborn Networks between Cape Town and Fortaleza in Brazil — plans to use for onward connectivity between South America and the US.
The SAEx system will have an overall ultimate design capacity of up to 108Tbit/s and will be composed of two main phases. SAEx1 will connect South Africa to Brazil and the US, with a branch to St Helena and stub branches for future landings in West Africa and other Atlantic islands. SAEx2, to be built later, will connect South Africa to both India and Singapore.
“With a network ready for service in the first half of 2021, this significant end-to-end project will further increase connectivity in Africa, deliver significant capacity for wholesale (services) and will enhance service and traffic protection through critical cable route diversity between key markets in Asia and the Americas,” SAEx said on Thursday.
In a statement, SAEx MD Rosalind Thomas said the SAEx system will “further evolve South Africa’s positioning as a global hub, providing a direct link between the Americas and Asia, simplifying and enhancing communications between the five most populous countries in the world”.
Alcatel Submarine Networks has been commissioned to deliver the full project, including network design, manufacturing, installation and commissioning. SAEx will use the latest optical networking technologies available, it said.
The SAEx cable has been in the works since at least 2012. However, the business underwent a major restructuring in 2014. Thomas said new shareholders were introduced who “understand the nature of the submarine cable industry and who support the business plan and strategic imperative”.
“This meant registering a new company here in South Africa and in Mauritius and obtaining approvals to transfer the intellectual property and obtaining new permits for the new companies,” she said.
The company is set to face stiff competition on the South Atlantic route with two other cables set to connect Southern Africa and Brazil, with onward connectivity on other systems to the US. Seaborn Networks last year set out plans to build the SABR cable from Cape Town to Brazil, while Angola Cables has already completed a project to build a system from Luanda to Brazil called the South Atlantic Cable System, or Sacs. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media