SAEx, Telecom Italia partner for US leg of SA cable - TechCentral

SAEx, Telecom Italia partner for US leg of SA cable

The company behind a plan to build a submarine cable connecting South Africa with South America has partnered with Telecom Italia’s Sparkle unit to expand its reach on the Seabras-1 cable to the US.

SAEx International said on Monday that it has signed an agreement to reach the US east coast through TI Sparkle’s pan-American network. TechCentral understands that the company has secured access on the Seabras-1 cable, on which Sparkle owns three of the six available fibre pairs. Sparkle bought that capacity 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 initial phase of the SAEx project provides for crossing the Atlantic Ocean by linking the South Atlantic section of the SAEx cable from Cape Town to Brazil and then reaching the US east coast with a landing in New Jersey in the US.

“Under the terms of the agreement, Sparkle will provide interconnection facilities in Brazil as well as technical and sales support in Brazil and North America,” SAEx and TI Sparkle said in a statement.

“This project marks a further step towards SAEx’s commitment to grow both west and east from South Africa into a truly global system spanning two oceans and four continents, while confirming Sparkle’s leading role in the area and its ability to provide low-latency connectivity solutions and end-to-end support.”

TechCentral reported in April that SAEx’s backers were pushing ahead with the project after a hiatus which saw the venture restructured as well as new technologies and routes chosen.

Mtunzini to Yzerfontein

If built, the South Atlantic Express cable, which will offer a minimum design capacity of 72Tbit/s, will connect Mtunzini on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast to Yzerfontein north of Cape Town, with branching units in East London and Port Elizabeth. It will then cross the South Atlantic to Fortaleza in Brazil.

It is set to be the first submarine cable system to connect South Africa’s east and west coasts.

The majority South African-owned cable system will be implemented in phases and the plan ultimately is to provide an east-west subsea system connecting Asia and the Americas.

The SAEx cable has been in the works since at least 2012. However, the business underwent a major restructuring in 2014. MD Rosalind 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,” Thomas said in April.

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 is leading a project to build a system from Luanda to Brazil called the South Atlantic Cable System, or Sacs.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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