Although Telkom has held preliminary discussions regarding Africa-1, the proposed new super cable to connect South Africa and East Africa with the Middle East and South-Central Asia, it has not made any financial commitment to the project at this stage.
In response to a query from TechCentral, Telkom spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan said: “The Africa-1 Group has been conducting preliminary talks with industry players to establish interest in a new undersea cable along the east coast. Telkom has participated in these talks but has not committed to any investment in the initiative.”
On Monday, Hong Kong-based telecommunications provider PCCW announced that five operators, including South Africa’s MTN and Telkom, would build the new, superfast submarine cable system.
The other operators involved in the consortium to build the cable system, which will extend more than 12 000km along Africa’s east coast up to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan (before additional branches are added), are PCCW, Saudi Telecom Company and Telecom Egypt.
According to a statement issued by PCCW, Africa-1 will have at least three fibre pairs at its core and will use the latest 100G wavelength technology to allow for several terabits per second of capacity to be commissioned when the system goes live.
When commissioned, it will be the largest-capacity route along Africa’s east coast and will compete head-on with the other two systems connecting countries along Africa’s eastern shoreline, namely Seacom and Eassy. It will also supplement the now old and relatively low-capacity Safe cable that connects South Africa and Asia.
According to the PCCW statement, Africa-1 will offer comprehensive interconnection with other cable systems and provide full open access to service providers at cable landing stations along its route.
The statement quoted Telkom managing executive for network engineering and build operations Casper Kondo-Chihaka as saying: “In addition to complementing our existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, Africa-1 will provide more diversity for the large volume broadband traffic from South Africa to the rest of the world. This cable will provide the means to fulfil our role as champions of national broadband access and act as catalyst to stimulate further penetration of Internet connectivity for the entire country.”
But Telkom is now seeking to downplay its involvement. O’Sullivan told TechCentral: “We are always looking for ways to best collaborate within the industry but importantly, any such collaboration would have to be in a manner that added value to the business.”
PCCW said in its statement that the consortium hopes to sign a construction and maintenance agreement by June, with the system ready for service by September 2017. Other operators are expecting to join the five founding members of the consortium over time, it said. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media