Seacom cable ‘online in July’

1 June 2009

Critical portions of the 15 000km Seacom undersea fibre-optic data cable linking southern and east Africa, Europe and south Asia, and its associated land-based infrastructure, have been completed on schedule.

These include the branching units and shore-ends necessary to direct the traffic to the landing stations across eastern and southern Africa. All cable landing stations have also been completed and are operational.

Testing is currently under way, and the system is set to go live in July.

“The team has made tremendous progress over the past couple of months and we are truly excited to finally have the finish line in sight,” Seacom CEO Brian Herlihy said in a statement last week.

The entire system will be operated and controlled through Seacom’s network operations centre, which is based in Pune, India.

Shareholders in the US$650-million (about R5.1-billion) cable include US-based Herakles Telecom (with a 25% stake), Kenya’s Industrial Promotion Services (25%), and Venfin (25%), as well as empowerment groups Convergence Partners (12.5%) and Shanduka (12.5%) from South Africa – making the cable 75% African owned.

Connecting Africa to the world

Connecting southern and eastern Africa to the rest of the world is the most important aspect of the project, and the finalisation of the agreement with Interoute and Tata truly will enable the cable’s customers to connect to the global fibre network via a myriad of routes across all major European hubs and onwards to North America and the Middle East and Asia.

In addition, Seacom is working closely with landlocked countries to ensure that inland networks are built so they also benefit from the arrival of cheaper bandwidth. The cable’s current backhaul solutions cover Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali and Nairobi.

Lower telecoms costs

In a little over a month, southern and eastern Africa will finally get truly connected to international broadband networks, Seacom says, adding that plentiful and readily available bandwidth will result in lower telecommunications costs and new opportunities across many sectors, including the call centre and business process outsourcing industries.

Other life-enhancing disciplines such as educational, clinical and scientific research, which rely on the real-time sharing of data around the world, will also become a reality for many African organisations.

“With the system substantially completed and testing under way, we are one step closer to delivering on our commitment and become the first project to provide eastern and southern African retail carriers with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth,” said Herlihy.

SAinfo reporter

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