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Vodafone Connects UK to 2Africa – World’s Largest Subsea Fibre Cable

Friday, Jun 7th, 2024 (11:43 am) - Score 3,520

The long-running 2Africa project, which is in the process of building a 45,000km long subsea (submarine) fibre optic cable between the United Kingdom and most of coastal Africa, has confirmed that telecoms giant Vodafone has just helped to land the new cable in England at a site in Bude (Cornwall).

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, boosting mobile network capacity and better international internet connectivity. Reliability improvements to local networks across all of the 33 linked countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe are another bonus (46 landing sites).

NOTE: The 2Africa consortium is made up of eight international partners: Bayobab; Center3; China Mobile International; Meta; Orange; Telecom Egypt; Vodafone Group; and WIOCC. Alcatel Submarine Networks is responsible for the manufacture and installation of the 2Africa cable.

The cable itself has a design capacity is up to 180Tbps (Terabits per second) on key parts of the system and Vodafone, as the lead partner for the UK landing, will be responsible for managing the physical cable coming ashore, burial on the beach and installation into a new, purpose-built beach manhole where 2Africa will connect to terrestrial cable routing back to the existing Vodafone Cable Landing Station.

In addition, Vodafone will provide 2Africa with onward connectivity via two diverse terrestrial infrastructure and fibre routes linking to the London area. The operator is already said to be carrying traffic on part of its 2Africa cable system.

2Africa map

Vodafone owns dual fibre cables on the route that have a lifespan of 25 years, both of which have been named after their Group Head of Subsea Partnerships, Rick Perry. The Vodafone system is referred to as SHARP (the System Honouring the Achievements of Rick Perry) and Rick has been involved with it since the very beginning.

Rick Perry, Vodafone Group Head of Subsea Partnerships, said:

“2Africa is the world’s most ambitious cable system and will help to narrow the digital divide in Africa. It’s great that the SHARP system is now online and serving customers and that it has landed in the UK.”

As a side note, the new cable also has greater protection because it benefits from a 50% increase in burial depth (i.e. up to 3 metres below the surface), which means it’s a lot less likely to be ripped up by the anchors of big ships or large trawlers (and their dragged nets). The system is also one of the first 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.

Vodafone has been the partner for 11 landings of the 2Africa cable to date.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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14 Responses
  1. Avatar photo htmm says:

    I have no comment on the technical side, but I found it very weird that the guy seemingly names the cables after himself.

    1. Avatar photo DaveisDead says:

      Glad it wasn’t just me then. I wonder if he’s one of those, how do the Americans put it, “insufferable narcissistic douchebags”? Even worse is it’s called SHARP “System Honouring the Achievements of Rick Perry”. Perhaps it’s a modern corporate thing that’s not come to my company yet.

    2. Avatar photo anon says:

      He didn’t.

      Rick Perry is an absolute legend in the industry, having been on the international connectivity side of things with Cable & Wireless (before Vodafone bought them) since the 1970s. He’s a humble person who’s The last to blow his own trumpet.

      Vodafone article


      The investors in the cable obviously thought it a fitting thing to honour him. Is that a bad thing?

  2. Avatar photo philbe2 says:

    Nice reporting about 2Africa cable landing in Bude, Cornwall, UK…but definitely wrong “Golden Buoy” illustration, sadly…(Port Elisabeth 2023…)

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes, we don’t have much from the Bude landing, so the 2Africa landing elsewhere was used.

    2. Avatar photo philbe2 says:

      To Mark Jackson:
      How about pestering Vodafone to provide an illustration of the actual Golden Buoy
      which landed on Bude ?..they definitely do have one..

  3. Avatar photo Anon says:

    A nice achievement, but I wonder how long before the cable mysteriously gets broken, coincidentally when a trawler from Russia or China just happens to be passing?

    1. Avatar photo e6qberu5 says:

      State-owned China Mobile International are one of the partners so unlikely.

      Hopefully they won’t interfere using other means…

  4. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    “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.”. Would someone please educate me as to what this does on a fibre optic cable and why aluminium would be better than copper?

    1. Avatar photo Fibretek2011 says:

      The aluminium side of the cable is used to power optical amplifiers

    2. Avatar photo 125us says:

      The cable will have amplifiers in the sea that need to be powered to work. I don’t know why aluminium is better technically, but most modern HV cable routes used for power transmission also use aluminium. No doubt someone will be along shortly to explain about the ‘skin effect’.

    3. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

      @F and 125; Ah, thank you.

    4. Avatar photo Dave Trent says:

      I thought the amplifiers were powered by doping the fibre?

    5. Avatar photo 125us says:

      How do you propose passing electrical current through glass, doped or not?

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