Seacom cable online ‘by June 2009’

15 August 2008

The construction of Seacom’s 15 000km fibre-optic undersea cable, which will link southern and east Africa, Europe and south Asia, is on schedule and set to go live as planned in June 2009, the company said this week.

Seacom, which is privately funded and over three-quarters African owned, will assist communication carriers in south and east Africa through the sale of wholesale international capacity to global networks via India and Europe.

The environmental impact assessment on the project is well advanced, with archaeological, marine and ecological studies having been completed. The company has also had social consultations with all affected parties.

In addition, some 10 000km of the fibre-optic cable has been manufactured to date in Japan and the USA, and project contractors Tyco Communications will begin shipping terrestrial equipment from this month onwards.

“We are very happy with the progress made over the past five months,” Seacom President Brian Herlihy said in a statement.

“Our manufacturing and deployment schedule is on target and we are confident that we will meet our delivery promises in what is today an incredibly tight market underpinned by sky-rocketing demand for new cables resulting in worldwide delivery delays.”

Laying cables

The laying of shore-end cables – the cable portions at shallow depths ranging from 15 to 50 metres, where large vessels cannot operate – will commence in September.

From October onwards, the first of three Reliance Class vessels will start laying the actual cable. The cable, including repeaters necessary to amplify the signal, will be stored in large tanks onboard the ships, while the branching units necessary to divert the cable to the planned landing stations will be connected into the cable path on the ship just prior to deployment into the sea.

The cable will then be buried under the ocean bed with the help of a plough along the best possible route demarcated through the marine survey.

System test

The final splicing, which involves connecting all the cable sections together, is scheduled for April 2009, allowing for enough time to test the system before its commercial launch in June 2009.

Seacom is also currently also trying to expedite the cable construction in an attempt to assist with the broadcasting requirements of the Fifa Confederations Cup, which South Africa will host in June 2009.

“The recently announced executive appointments combined with the project management capabilities already existent within Seacom position us as a fully fledged telecoms player,” Herlihy said. “We are able to meet the African market’s urgent requirements for cheap and readily available bandwidth within less than a year.”

SAinfo reporter

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