Facebook, Telecom firms to build subsea cable networks

Facebook is partnering with a consortium of African and global telecom firms to build one of the world’s largest underwater or subsea cable networks. This will boost Internet availability across three continents- Africa, Middle East and parts of Europe, The firms announced in a joint statement on Thursday.

The partners in this project are South Africa’s MTN GlobalConnect and Mauritius-based infrastructure provider WIOCC , alongside China Mobile International, French telecoms major, Orange SA, Saudi Arabia’s STC, Telecom Egypt, and Vodafone.

The project, called 2Africa, aims to build 37,000 kilometres of subsea cable infrastructure which will directly connect countries around the African coast to Europe and the Middle East, according to its website.

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The network will have a design capacity of up to 150 terabytes per second (Tbps) on key parts of the system, according to the site . The 11 new cables rolled out between 2009 and 2016 in sub-Saharan Africa provided around 70 Tbps of design capacity.

Subsea infrastructure provider, Alcatel Submarine Networks will build the project, which is expected to be operational by 2023/24. The companies did not reveal how much money they are investing.

“2Africa… will interconnect Europe, the Middle East and 21 landings in 16 African countries,” according to the statement.

Subsea cables form the internet’s backbone , carrying 99% of the world’s data traffic.

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However, with a population of 1.3 billion, Africa is still behind in internet connectivity, with average internet penetration at around 39% against a world average of 59%.

On completion, the subsea network looks to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today.

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