Facebook, MTN, Orange, Vodafone, China Mobile, and WIOCC have announced they will partner to build 2Africa, one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world.
They have appointed Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to build the cable in a fully-funded project which will enhance connectivity across Africa and the Middle East.
At 37,000km long, 2Africa will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects and will interconnect Europe, the Middle East, and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa.
The 2Africa cable will implement a new technology, SDM from ASN, allowing deployment of up to 16 fibre pairs instead of the eight fibre pairs supported by older technologies.
The system is expected to go live in 2023/4, and with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps it has more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today.
The cable will also incorporate optical switching technology to enable the flexible management of bandwidth.
Cable burial depth has been increased by 50% compared to older systems, too, and cable routing will avoid locations of known subsea disturbance to increase reliability.
Supporting broadband growth in Africa
2Africa will deliver Internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa to support the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed-broadband access, said the companies.
In countries where the 2Africa cable will land, service providers will obtain capacity in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis.
This, 2Africa said, will support healthy Internet ecosystem development by facilitating improved accessibility for businesses and consumers.
The 2Africa cable has been designed to improve resilience and maximise performance, including the option of a seamless optical crossing between East Africa and Europe.
The 2Africa parties and Airtel have also signed an agreement with Telecom Egypt to provide a new crossing linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean – the first in over a decade.
This includes new cable landing stations and the deployment of next-generation fibre on two new terrestrial routes parallel to the Suez Canal from Ras Ghareb to Port Said, and a new subsea link that will provide a third path between Ras Ghareb and Suez.