Google And Facebook To Build Own Undersea Cables Around Africa
5 July 2019
New undersea cables around Africa seldomly make headlines anymore, but recent announcements that Google and Facebook are building their own has become big news.
Google announced that it is fully funding a new cable from Portugal down the west coast of the continent down to Cape Town in South Africa, with multiple landing points at countries along the coast. The first branch will land in Nigeria.
Google says this is its 14th undersea cable and will be named Equiano, after the Nigerian author Olaudah Equiano, who was kidnapped as an 11-year-old and sold into slavery in the 1750s. From the US, he was sold to a ship's captain and ended up in London where he became part of the British abolition movement. Google has previously done a Doodle about him.
Google says the cable will have 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region. It will be the first subsea cable to use 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 us the flexibility to add and reallocate it in different locations as needed."
It will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks and is expected to be operational by 2021, and "because Equiano is fully funded by Google, we’re able to expedite our construction timeline and optimize the number of negotiating parties".
Nigeria and west Africa are already served by several cables, including the privately-owned Main One. It’s CEO Funke Opeke was named by Forbes as one of The World's Top 50 Women in Tech 2018.