[engineering news] The 14 000 km long undersea fibre-optic West Africa Cable System (Wacs) was scheduled to reach the beach at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape in April, which would be an additional boost for international connectivity in the South Africa.
MTN has invested $90-million in the Wacs system, making it the largest single investor in the cable, and would receive 11% of the initial capacity of the system when it becomes commercially available during the second quarter of this year.
The $650-million Wacs submarine cable is an ultra high capacity fiber optic submarine cable system linking Southern Africa and Europe, spanning the west coast of Africa and terminating in London. This cable system is the biggest to ever land on the Africa continent, and has 15 terminal stations, which anchor along the western coast of Africa, including countries where MTN has operations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.
“WACS will provide millions of MTN subscribers across Africa with much-needed bandwidth, and will go a long way towards catapulting Africa into the digital age. Lack of bandwidth on the continent has arrested the development of Africa and has constrained the continent from achieving its full potential,” said MTN South Africa MD Karel Pienaar.
Quoting figures released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Pienaar said mobile penetration in Africa was the lowest worldwide at 41%, and Africa lagged in terms of fixed broadband.
“Although subscriptions are increasing, a penetration rate of less than 1% illustrates the challenges that persist in increasing access to high-speed, high-capacity Internet access in the region. We believe that these investments MTN has made in submarine cables will vault Africa into the digital age and afford our subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond the capacity and ability to be part of this growing global village,” noted Pienaar.
Wacs is a minimum 4-fibre pair cable system, with a system design of 5,12 Tb/s measured at 10Gb/s wavelength technology. The initial equipage is more than 500Gb/s, and certain segments will deploy 40Gb/s wavelengths technology from the first day of operation.
The landing parties include Telkom South Africa, Telecom Namibia, Angola cables, OCPT in the DRC, Congo Telecom, MTN Cameroon, MTN Nigeria, Togo Telecom, MTN Ghana, MTN Ivory Coast, PTC in Cape Verde, Vodacom, Tata Communications, and Cable and Wireless.
The Wacs consortium members include the MTN Group, Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, Office Congolais des Postes et Telecommunications, PT COMUNICAÇÕES, Togo Telecom, Tata Communications, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA and the Vodacom Group.
MTN also invested $50-million in the Europe India Gateway (EIG) cable system, and $40,3-million in the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). Through EASSy, MTN has already been allocated an initial capacity of 30GB in line with its investment in the cable, while the company received 317GB of capacity on the EIG cable.
West Africa undersea cable to land in SA this month