Submarine telecommunications cable developer eFive Telecoms says its US$280m South Atlantic Express (SAEx) system, for which construction should start in 2014, will provide international capacity to a range of coastal South African towns and cities at speeds of up to 24Tbit/s.
eFive Telecoms CEO Rosalind Thomas says the cable system will consist of three fibre pairs between Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast and Yzerfontein north of Cape Town, where the recently completed West African Cable System lands in South Africa. Landing stations will also be constructed in Port Elizabeth and East London.
The cable system will then extend across the south Atlantic to Fortaleza in Brazil, from where it will connect to systems that continue on to the important North American market. There will also be a spur to St Helena, the first fibre connection to the isolated island.
The plan calls for the transatlantic leg to consist of two fibre pairs, offering a design capacity of 16Tbit/s. However, this may be increased to three or even four fibre pairs before construction begins, possibly taking the design capacity to as high as 32Tbit/s.
Thomas says she expects financial closure to take place no later than the end of June 2013, though it may happen as early as April 2013. Financing will be a combination of debt and equity, probably on a 50-50 split. “I can’t reveal the names of the financial institutions because they’ve asked us not to,” she says. “We’re at a sensitive stage of discussions.”
eFive has already signed a turnkey supply contract with TE SubCom. The contract will only come into full force when financial close is reached.
Thomas says that because SAEx will provide a much shorter route to the North American market, latency — the time it takes for information to travel over a certain distance — will be much lower from South Africa to the US than existing cable routes to Europe and across the north Atlantic.
Thomas says latency from South Africa to New York will be about 144ms.
eFive’s shareholders are currently Lindikhaya Mpambani, Lawrence Mulaudzi, Malusi Magasela and Keith Shongwe. Thomas will also soon become a shareholder. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media