The first subsea telecommunications cable to directly link South Africa and the Americas is set to start early next year.
Seaborn Networks is undertaking the project, with the cable linking Cape Town and Brazil, where it will connect with another Seaborn cable that extends from Sao Paulo to New York.
It would transfer data between SA and the Americas at speeds “significantly faster” than existing cables, which linked the two regions via Europe and via multiple connection points
“The project is currently in both the development and technical planning phases,” said Seaborn Networks COO Andy Bax.
“We have already completed a feasibility phase in terms of the route itself and the demand for a cable from South Africa to the US and have determined that the optimal approach is one that utilises our Seabras-1 system, a state-of-the-art submarine fibre cable we recently completed from the US to Brazil. We envisage completing the development phase of the project by the end of this year once we have finalised requirements for the cable with parties that have already shown an interest. We’ll start the actual build process in early 2019 resulting in the cable being ready to deliver services around the middle of 2020.”
This is Seaborn Networks’ first project in Africa, although the company hopes it will be the first of many.
“We see South Africa to Brazil (SABR) as a stepping stone to solving other connectivity issues in the region both in terms of access to capacity and bringing that capacity to operators in other parts of Africa at a price that enables them to grow their businesses in line with both their goals and the demands of a user base with an ever growing appetite for access to information, entertainment and social media,” added Bax.
“We have always considered that the most economically sound path for a cable route from South Africa to the US to be the shortest possible route across the Atlantic to a new, ultra-high capacity subsea fibre cable connecting to the US.
“SABR is the shortest path across the Atlantic, landing in Northern Brazil. This is also incredibly more stable than today’s existing routes which unfortunately seem to consistently suffer from faults, embargoes or acts of vandalism.
“A connection to Cape Town also provides for easier onward connections to the eastern side of the continent as well as into Asia, all through existing subsea cables or those already under construction.
“Currently, telecommunications traffic bound for the US from the region traverses up either the east or west coast of Africa, stopping off at numerous locations before going through the Middle East or southern and central Europe before going from Northern Europe to the US.
“This is both a long and arduous route from a telecoms perspective as the number of stops along the way increase the likelihood of equipment and human caused faults. Add to that the geo-political risks of passing through volatile regions of the world and the picture is not one that creates comfort for telecom service providers. SABR will provide a direct connection to Northern Brazil and then connect directly to our Seabras-1 for a non-stop path to New York.
“SABR will provide open access to critical connectivity for telecom service providers. In addition, for those service providers committing to purchase capacity on SABR ahead of the build phase, they will only pay their proportional share of the actual build cost of SABR that share being determined by how much of the cable capacity they want to use.
“SABR will be capable of carrying 30-40Tbps of capacity so there is plenty available for everyone. Small, medium and large service providers in the region will finally be able to purchase the size of capacity they believe they will need over the coming years on a fair and equal footing, as opposed to only being able to purchase expensive capacity when they are already running out. SABR will enable providers of all sizes to grow and importantly provide better quality of service to their customers, as opposed to the expensive international capacity available today which restricts growth and limits the amount of bandwidth provided to end consumers.”