The construction of an undersea cable, which is to serve South Africa’s bandwidth needs for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa, while also supporting sustained East and South African economic growth, is on track and in a mature stage of development, reports communications cabling systems contractor, Seacom.
“With construction now under way, and about 16 months left to commissioning date, we are on schedule to meet the bandwidth needs of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa,” reports Seacom president Brian Herlihy.
Seacom is responsible for the development of the private submarine fibre-optic cable, and will be the full service provider of international fibre bandwidth along the East Coast of Africa to Southern Africa, Europe and Asia, reports the company.
The cabling systems company will assist communication carriers in South and East Africa through the sale of wholesale inter-national capacity to global networks through India and Europe.
“The overwhelming demand for increased bandwidth in East and South Africa grows greater each day,” explains Herlihy.
The SEA Cable System, or Seacom, will provide African retail carriers with equal and open access to inexpensive bandwidth, removing the international infrastructure bottleneck and supporting East and South African economic growth, reports Seacom.
The 13 700-km undersea cable system will connect South Africa to Europe and India, with the route passing along the East Coast of Africa and through the Red Sea before terminating in Italy.
In addition, it will land in Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates along the route.
Seacom has a design capacity of 1,28 terabytes a second, and is sufficient to support the expected exponential increase in demand in 2010 and beyond.
The undersea cable system will be about ten times the current capacity of the South Atlantic-3 cable, which runs along Africa’s West Coast and connects South Africa to Europe, enabling greater availability and lower cost for high-demand services, such as Internet, peer-to-peer networks, high-definition television and Internet Protocol television.
The cable will offer international capacity on a lease and rights of usage basis at costs that are 70% to 80% less than the current satellite pricing.
Herlihy says that the expected future demand for bandwidth is expected to grow exponentially, as file sharing and streaming video applications become accessible to the retail user at an affordable price.
“International submarine fibre-optic cables are a necessary complement for the emerging last mile technologies, such as third-generation, WiMax and fibre to the home, removing the international capacity bottleneck that exists in the region today,” states Herlihy.
Undersea communications technology and marine services company Tyco Tele-communications, which is a supplier of turnkey undersea telecommunications systems, which operates a fleet of modern vessels and remotely operated vehicles serving the under- sea cable and offshore markets around the world, was awarded the supply contract for the SEA Cable System.
Tyco Telecommunications vice-president of sales, marketing and project management Michael Rieger says, “The launch of construction of the SEA Cable System marks a signifi- cant moment for our industry as we begin the first major submarine cable infrastructure system to link East and South Africa with India, the Middle East and Europe.”
Telecommunications network operator and Internet services provider, Neotel, in the last quarter of 2007, signed a cable development agreement with Seacom, in order to confront the growing demand for international bandwidth in South Africa.
Neotel, which is South Africa’s first direct telecommunications competitor to the current tele-communications parastatal, Telkom, will own the cable landing station and all the facilities of the newly developed Seacom, within the South African territory.
In terms of the agreement, the telecoms company will also ensure that the operation of the cable meets current and future regulations.
Neotel and Seacom believe that operating the cable facilities on an open-access basis will stimulate the South African international bandwidth market, and make affordable bandwidth available to South African customers.
“Neotel is committed to bringing in a new era in the telecoms industry of South Africa, and we aim to reduce the cost of doing business in the country through better value-for-money, leading- edge, telecoms products. A key enabler to this objective is the availability of multiple inter- national routes connecting South Africa to the rest of the globe. The Seacom project is an initia- tive towards this end”, says Neotel MD Ajay Pandey.
Neotel’s network enables other South African operators and service providers to directly connect globally from Neotel’s Johannesburg point of prescence, and this capability will grow significantly with the deployment of the SEA Cable System, reports the company.
Neotel will contribute R20-million toward the project, with funds going toward the cable landing station and all related facilities within South African territory.
“We are particularly excited that the South African investors in Seacom have a 50% stake, making this one of the country’s success stories,” says Pandey.
Full construction on the Seacom cable was initiated on the back of the marine survey and pre-engineering work that Tyco completed in October 2007.
In December 2007, the marine survey from South Africa to Kenya was successfully com- pleted and construction of the cable started, reports Seacom.
“We look forward to an exciting time as Seacom powers ahead to become a real and tangible partner to the bandwidth-hungry African economies that it will serve,” comments Herlihy.
The Mauritian company, which provides high-capacity bandwidth, linking business and communities in Southern and East Africa, Europe and South Asia, is 75%-owned by African investors as a collaboration between East and Southern Africans.