West African Cable System lands in Cape Town

A high capacity submarine cable system linking southern Africa with Europe landed at its final destination in Cape Town Tuesday morning. The West African Cable System (WACS), a 14,000km, 5.1Tbps system was brought ashore at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape and will both complement and compete with the 340Gbps Sat-3 system that went into service in the region in 2002.

WACS backers include South African state-owned Telkom, MTN, Vodacom and second national operator (SNO) Neotel. MTN claims to be the biggest single investor in the project, contributing $90m to the $600m+ venture. The cable system is the first of two high-capacity links that will come online in the region over the next two years; WACS is expected to be ready commercially in early 2012 while the Africa Coast to Europe system (ACE), backed by France Telecom is expected later that year.

Construction of the landing station at Yzerfontein has yet to be completed, but is expected to be ready by July this year; backhaul fibre to the station is not yet in place. A date for commercial testing of the system has not been announced but is anticipated for September/October this year. WACS links southern Africa with London and is expected to increase broadband capacity in South Africa by 500Gbps.

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