Alcatel-Lucent's cable laying ship

African telecoms operator Telkom has announced that the West African Cable System (WACS) has now successfully landed in Yzerfontein in South Africa.

Designed to support present and future internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services, the capacity of the entire system is 5.12Tbps.  

Manufactured and installed by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Cable Networks, the 4 fibre pair system has been under construction since 2009. The total project cost will not exceed $650 million.  

Dr Angus Hay of Neotel, Co-Chair of the WACS Management Committee, said:
The 14 000km long fibre optic submarine cable system spans the west coast of Africa and terminating in the United Kingdom, WACS will enable seamless connectivity into the rest of Europe and America.

An initiative by the WACS Consortium, whose South African members consist of Broadband Infraco, MTN, Telkom SA Ltd, Neotel and Vodacom Group Ltd,  the cable has 15 established terminal stations along route and Telkom says it will function to reduce the cost to connect the west coast of Africa into the high-speed global telecommunications network for many years to come.

It will effectively raise South Africa’ s current broadband capacity by over 500 Gigabits per second.

“ Its design of 4 fibre pair and 128 wavelength technology make WACS the largest cable system to ever land in Sub Sahara Africa. It will be capable of carrying the equivalent traffic of Seacom, EASSy and SAT-3/WASC/SAFE cable systems combined. WACS will meet the demand for capacity well into the first quarter of the 21st century.”

Casper K Chihaka, Managing Executive: Telkom Wholesale Services, said previously, all submarine cables that enter South Africa are located at either Melkbosstrand or Mtunzini –   effectively two international fibre gateways.
“ Events such as earthquakes or even a large ship dragging its anchor has seen several cables being cut during singular events across the world. South Africa needed a third international fibre gateway to reduce the risk of complete isolation from the rest of the world,” he said.
Once WACS commences commercial operation, Telkom will be able to provide services through three diverse gateways from South Africa providing the redundancy for a connected South Africa even under disastrous conditions.  The latest addition also means Telkom’ s submarine cable portfolio will now comprise of a complete ring around Africa enabling Telkom the ability to offer redundant and restorable international bandwidth services.
“ Africa has until now, been a cyclist on the information superhighway. MTN’ s investment in WACS will ensure that millions of our subscribers in South Africa and across the continent have the capacity and the ability to optimally utilize the data and telemetry offerings that modern telephony applications provide. We sincerely believe that the commercialization of WACS and other submarine cables will set the stage for a mobile revolution that will enhance the quality of life for millions of people across the continent,” added Karel Pienaar, MTN South Africa Managing Director.

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