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Undersea Fiber: Europe to South Africa PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 July 2019 07:32


Google has formally introduced Equiano, their new private subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe. Once complete, Equiano will start in western Europe and run along the West Coast of Africa, between Portugal and South Africa, with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria. This new cable is fully funded by Google, making it their third private international cable after Dunant and Curie, and their 14th subsea cable investment globally.

Google’s private subsea cables all carry the names of historical luminaries, and Equiano is no different. Named for Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, the Equiano cable is state-of-the-art infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, with approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region.

Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fiber-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching. This greatly simplifies the allocation of cable capacity, giving the cable the flexibility to add and reallocate it in different locations as needed. And because Equiano is fully funded by Google, they are able to expedite the construction timeline and optimize the number of negotiating parties. A contract to build the cable with Alcatel Submarine Networks was signed in Q4 2018, and the first phase of the project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021.

Between 2016 and 2018, Google invested US$47 billion in capex, which includes investment in improving their global infrastructure.