A historic feat will soon be recorded. The first direct transatlantic submarine cable, between Africa and America, is nearing completion. The South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) would connect African telecoms through Angola to Brazil in South America.
This is a really big development. Presently, African telecom operators have no direct link to the American continent. Every connection to America has to first be routed through Europe via the West African Cable System (WACS). WACS connects Africa to Europe directly, and gives the continent access to other regions. Meanwhile, South American telecoms need to route communications to the US before it can reach regions like Africa, Europe and Asia.
But with the completion of SACS, Tech Central reports, African and South American telecom operators would be able to avoid rerouting altogether. The new cable system would provide direct data access to each region’s existing telecom infrastructure. Africa would be able to reach the US without linking to Europe, and South America would be able to reach Europe and Asia without linking through the US.
What benefit does it have?
Construction of the SACS cable link would have quite an impact. When completed, this cable system is expected to cut data traffic cost by up to 80%. SACS would also facilitate a much faster data traffic transfer rate.
Presently, WACS has a total capacity of 14.5Tbit/s. But SACS is going to beat that. It is going to provide 40Tbit/s when completed. SACS would transmit 100Gbit/s through four fiber pairs. This would mean a much faster data transfer rate. And while WACS has a connectivity time of about 350 milliseconds, SACS is expected to trump that. It would have a connectivity time of just 63 milliseconds.
The impact of these would be huge with time for Africa. In Nigeria, for instance, over the last 8 years, cost of data has been slashed greatly. Back in 2009, MTN (a lead WACS partner) offered 100MB of data at a cost of N1000. But today, some telcos in Nigeria offer 3GB for that same amount; with MTN offering 1.5GB for the same price.
This did not happen on its own. It is possibly a result of the development of the West African Cable System, which became operational in 2012. Consistent improvements to WACS coincide with reduction in the price of data in Nigeria. But with the benefits SACS has over WACS, we should see a lot more improvements in the next few years.
But overall, the development of SACS would create a net benefit for the development prospects of nations in the Global South (Africa and South America).
Development of SACS
The deployment of the SACS submarine cable began in August 2017. Construction of the cable link is estimated to be over $250 million. The funds are being provided by Angola Cables, a fiber-optics capable operator in Angola. Angola Cables is also leading the development of the project, expected to be completed by the mid-2018 and operational by the third quarter of 2018.
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