The West African Cable System (WACS) will be operated on a policy of open access and this will increase competition in the market, says an analyst.
The cable landed in SA on Wednesday, at the country's third international fibre gateway, in Yzerfontein. It will link Southern Africa and Europe, and has a capacity of 5.12Tbps, making it Africa's largest-capacity cable.
It is being funded by a consortium that is composed of 12 parties. Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, MTN, Office Congolais des Postes et Télécommunications, Portugal Telecom/Cabo Verde Telecom, Tata Communications/Neotel, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Telecom and Vodacom, are the investing parties.
Manufactured and installed by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Cable Networks ASN, the four-fibre pair system has been under construction since 2009. The total project cost will not exceed $650 million.
In addition to complementing existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, WACS will provide much needed diversity for large-volume broadband traffic from SA to Europe, says the consortium.
“The 14 000km fibre-optic submarine cable system will effectively raise SA's current broadband capacity by over 500Gbps.”
The cable will operate at 40Gbps and will connect SA to the UK, with landings in Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, and Portugal.