SAT-3/SAFE upgraded to 340 Gbps and 440 Gbps

Speaking at a media event today, Johan Meyer, Telkom Executive for Global Capacity Business, said that it was high time Telkom shared information on cable upgrades made over the past 10 years. Meyer said that between the end of 2009 and 2011 there is expected to be a 30 to 40 fold capacity increase to the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

Speaking on cable design capacity versus equipped capacity, Meyer emphasised that while cable systems such as SEACOM advertise a 1.28Tbps design capacity, they have only equipped the cable with 80Gbps.  According to Meyer, Telkom has officially equipped SAT-3 with 340Gbps and SAFE with 440Gbps.

Effect on pricing

Meyer said that due to the number on cable systems arriving in sub-Saharan Africa, “prices continue to be under tremendous pressure.” Meyer illustrated the point by stating that an STM-1 connection over SAT-3 cost between R6.2 and R6.7 million in 2002, whereas the same connection will cost R970 000 as of 2009.

The cost reduction trend has also filtered through to SAIX. Meyer said that whilst technology advances and new cable systems are driving down costs, it is important to consider actual demand for capacity, which also affects the economy of scale.

International connectivity

Through numerous partnerships Telkom offers global connectivity. For example, the COLUMBUS3 cable system will offer a direct connection to America via Lisbon in Portugal. Meyer also said that “in due course, I believe we will be using facilities on SEACOM,” for East Africa connections.

While EASSy only connects to certain points on the East African coast, the EIG cable will compliment this cable by linking to India, the Middle East and Europe. “The EIG entitles Telkom to a direct link to the London POP,” said Meyer.

WACS, which is on schedule for arrival in mid-2011, will be a key system for Telkom, providing a design capacity of 5.12 Tb/s, and redundancy for SAT-3. The combination of planned cable systems will provide a ring of open access systems around the African continent.

Meyer said that Telkom’s investment strategy is to participate in consortium owned cable systems. This provides stability, combined operating experience, and access to established markets. Telkom’s investments vary from as low as 1% in some systems to 13% in SAT-3. Meyer would not disclose what Telkom’s share of the US$650 million WACS cable was.

City to City

Alphonzo Samuels, Telkom Managing Executive for Wholesale Services, officially announced a new International Private Leased Circuit (IPLC) product called City to City. The service offers a full circuit from Telkom’s Barrack Street or New Doornfontein exchanges, via Melkbosstrand to Telehouse East, or Telecity 1 in London.

Samuels explained that Telkom offers an ASDN/DWDM backhaul network which automatically switches transport networks in the event of failure. This also brings Telkom in line with the FIFA World Cup 2010 requirements. Telkom continues to deploy redundancy networks around the country.

Speaking to MyBroadband, Samuels discussed the general state of SAT-3 and SAFE operations. “Over the past seven years, wholesale prices have dropped by 90% on the cable system. With the arrival of SAFE and WACS, the downward trend in pricing is set to continue,” said Samuels.

Although Samuels could not divulge information about the current usage over SAT-3/SAFE, he did says that Telkom is happy with the current cable utilisation. Samuels added that due to the recent upgrades to bring SAT3 to a 340Gbps capacity, and SAFE to 440Gbps, the overall utilisation drops, but should pick up as demand continues.

With regards to the 2010 World Cup, Telkom is well equipped to provide two 20Gbps connections for FIFA, one of which is for redundancy explained Samuels. For additional redundancy, Telkom is looking at providing connections via satellite and SEACOM. “This means that [Telkom is] more than prepared for the World Cup.”

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SAT-3/SAFE upgraded to 340 Gbps and 440 Gbps