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New 2Africa Subsea Fibre Optic Cable to Link UK with Africa

Friday, May 15th, 2020 (12:14 pm) - Score 3,793
submarine fibre optic cornwall

A new project – 2Africa – supported by China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC has been announced that will build a 37,000km long subsea (submarine) fibre optic cable between the United Kingdom and most of coastal Africa by around the end of 2023.

The new network expects to deliver more than the total combined data capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, which should help to support faster broadband speeds (as well as giving capacity to 4G and 5G mobile networks) and better international internet connectivity. Reliability improvements to local networks across all of the 23 linked countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe is another bonus.

NOTE: 2Africa’s design capacity is up to 180Tbps (Terabits per second) on key parts of the system.

In the countries where the 2Africa cable lands, ISPs will also be able to obtain capacity in carrier-neutral datacentres and open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis. On top of that this is the first system of its size to make use of a new aluminium conductor for submarine cable systems (this allows for a much lower cable voltage drop and thus a higher number of fibre pairs per cable).

Najam Ahmad, VP of Network Infrastructure at Facebook, said:

“We’re excited to be collaborating with our 2Africa partners on the most comprehensive subsea cable that will serve the continent. 2Africa is a major element of our ongoing investment in Africa to bring more people online to a faster internet.

We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact that increased connectivity has on communities, from education to healthcare. We know that economies flourish when there is widely accessible internet for businesses. 2Africa is a key pillar supporting this tremendous internet expansion as part of Africa’s surging digital economy.”

In addition, the development team have doubled the maximum 8 fibre pairs supported by older technology by implementing Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM1) technology and it will also be the first time Wavelength Selective Switching (WSS)-ROADM is harnessed in Africa, allowing for more flexible capacity management.

2Africa map

The new cable also has greater protection because it can benefit from a 50% increase in burial depth (i.e. up to 3 metres below the surface), which means it’s less likely to be ripped up by the anchors of big ships or large trawlers (not to mention dragged fishing nets).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
26 Responses
  1. joe says:

    4 links for SA. Not sure what the rationale is for that?

    1. JamesW says:

      Could be the density of the area? Or failover/redundancy

    2. joe says:

      For a 57m pop with low data usages that would seem overkill. They may be routing into Namibia etc but it still looks odd.

    3. Biscuit says:

      They may be planning for the future. Currently SA has pretty poor fibre however it is expanding at a rapid pace. This is welcome news!

    4. Spurple says:

      South Africa has better infrastructure in sub-saharan Africa, and many companies heading to Africa tend to start there. Demand would be greatest there. Also, MTN, one of the backers of the project is a South African company.

      I have no inside info, just my best conjecture.

    5. Brandon Billingham says:

      Looks to be landing at major metropolitan areas as well. One of which has an Azure Region.

  2. Mr D P Gumby says:

    Nigerian scammers getting a better back haul, I look forward to the increased fishing emails and scam calls.

    1. J W says:

      What a load of tripe and such a generalisation.

      This is beneficial to the whole of Africa and you’re worried about some “Nigerian scanners”.

      Shame on you.

    2. J W says:

      Ps. Its “phishing”

    3. Paul. says:

      PS It’s “scammers”. Do check your own smug corrections.

    4. Spurple says:

      Email is about as low bandwidth as you can get.

  3. Karl says:

    Yay more hacking !!!!

    1. Mix says:

      Please explain?

  4. The Facts says:

    Where is the UK end landing?

    1. Marty says:

      There isn’t much information on it to be honest

    2. Tony soprano says:

      Bude. Cornwall.

    3. 14 Past says:

      Looks like cable ship Ile d’Aix is off the shore atm.

  5. Matthew says:

    I wonder if this Cable could be used to bring a fibre connection to St Helena looks like it would run close enough for at least a fork

    1. Robin says:

      There is a planned branch off the Equiano cable to St Helena, and the route of 2Africa looks similar enough that the required branch would be the same. The St Helenian economy is a way off being able to support more than one cable though I think.

  6. hmmm says:

    china?ლ(ಠ_ಠლ)

  7. Name says:

    Africa is already surrounded by many fibre optic cables: https://www.infrapedia.com/app, https://dev.networkatlas.org/

  8. Derek Babbao says:

    No libya? come one now.

  9. SimonHayterUK says:

    Great, more bandwidth for the fraudsters with little accountability.

    1. 125us says:

      You believe that fraudsters are a) exclusively located on the continent of Africa and b) constrained in their criminal acts somehow by the current amount of intercontinental bandwidth available?

      Bit racist, bit nutty.

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