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New undersea cable for SA

April 19th, 2016
MTN, PCCW, Saudi Telecom Company, Telecom Egypt and Telkom have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction a new submarine cable system to connect Africa with the Middle East and South Central Asia.
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This consortium-funded system, called Africa-1, will connect Africa with the Middle East and South Central Asia and provide onward connectivity to Europe.

Companies named in the MoU are expected to be joined in the consortium by other carriers seeking to contribute to and to share in Africa-1’s roll-out. The consortium members have access to landings at all major cable systems in the Middle East, which is expected to facilitate efficient and effective connectivity between Africa-1 and the rest of the world.

Africa-1 will have at least 3-fiber pair core that extends more than 12 000 km along Africa’s East Coast towards Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, with up to an additional 5 000 km for branches.

“Africa-1 will leverage the latest state-of-the-art 100G technology and will be initially equipped to accommodate several terabits of capacity from day one,” reads a statement from PCCW Global. “Along with comprehensive interconnection with other cable systems and full Open Access at all cable landing points, Africa-1 will be technically and commercially be designed to be attractive, delivering easy accessibility and a unique low-latency direct express route.

The Construction and Maintenance Agreement is expected to be signed by June 2016, with a target ready for service timeframe of the third quarter of 2017

“We believe strongly in the potential success of this project due to the strength of our partners,” said Marc Halbfinger, chief executive officer of PCCW Global. “All are major telecommunications service providers who are committed to their customers and have strong records of success. We view Africa-1 as a natural extension to facilitate the increasing capacity demands of the Asia-Africa trade corridor with better levels of reliability to connect people and business in the world’s fast growing economies.”

John Unterhorst, MTN’s group executive responsible for global carrier services and group network and IP projects, hailed Africa-1 as a high capacity consortium initiative on the Eastern African seaboard that will complement existing cables now nearing their mid-life.

“Africa-1 will ensure future resiliency and capacity requirements for the explosive digital broadband future, so vital for Africa’s economic and social development,” he said.

Casper Kondo-Chihaka, managing executive of network engineering and build at Telkom SA, added: “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.”

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