West Africa Cable System (WACS) was officially launched in South Africa last week Friday bringing with it an extra 5.12 terabyte per second (Tbps) of capacity to South Africa’s shores.
The 17,200km sub-sea cable will link South Africa and Western Africa to Western Europe starting at Yzerfontein near Cape Town, South Africa, to the United Kingdom.
The cable will link 14 countries including South Africa, Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, Portugal, and the UK.
“The trunk route on WACS from Cape Town to London is over 14,500km long, with the express from South Africa to Portugal being 11,500 km, one of the longest such segments in the world,” Dr. Angus Hay, co-chair of the WACS management committee said.
The 4-fibre pair cable system was constructed at approximately US$650 million, and will carry the equivalent traffic of Seacom, Eassy and SAT-3/WASC/SAFE cable systems combined, Hay added.
According to WAC’s largest investors, MTN, the cable will effectively raise SA’s current broadband capacity by more than 500Gbps, and will be a “much-needed boost to MTN in South Africa, where consumer appetite for data quadrupled during 2011″.
“Data consumption is up by approximately 200 percent year-on-year. In the same period, smartphones use increased by 128 percent to 3.6 million users, while data users soared to 10.9 million,” said MTN.
Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) supplied WACS system. It makes use of 10Gbps technology as well as 40Gbps optical coherent DWDM technology, and will be the first submarine cable system ever to make use of Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) to provide advanced in-system restoration of wavelengths, increasing network resilience.
The cable system launch is expected to translate into a drop in international broadband prices and long-term economic growth.
Sean Nourse, the executive for connectivity at Internet Solutions, said: “WACS will further boost international broadband competition, reducing pricing, and providing the continent with the means to grow exponentially in terms of data consumption.”