Alcatel-Lucent to build ACE undersea cable extension from Guinea to South Africa

Broadband connectivity and digital services in Africa are to get a boost from a 5,000km extension to its cable connectivity with Europe.

Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, the cable subsidiary of the equipment maker, is to roll out Phase II of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable system. The new 5,000km extension will run from the Gulf of Guinea island of Sao Tomé-et-Principe to South Africa.

The new connection uses Alcatel-Lucent’s 100 gigabit-per-second (Gbit/s) submarine technology. On completion of the Phase II extension the ACE system will deliver an overall design capacity of 12.8 Tbit/s which, it says, represents a significant upgrade in broadband delivery.

The new link will help deliver better broadband services and digital apps to an additional 200 million people through this extension. Of the 16 countries connected by the ACE, 13 are in Africa and seven of those were connected to the global Internet backbone for the first time when the cable system came on-stream in December 2012. Phase II will link Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and South Africa, including an extension to Cameroon.

In July reported how Orange has made Africa and the Middle East a target for growth, noting that the ACE system has become an enabler for its expansion strategy. Orange said it aims to grow revenues from its operations in those regions by 5% per year through to 2018, while simultaneously improving margins. Currently Orange’s African operations account for 11% of its revenues.

“The extension of the ACE system to South Africa is a significant milestone that confirms our commitment to the connectivity challenges facing Africa,” said Yves Ruggeri, Chairman of the ACE Management Committee, “the overall objective of ACE is to reduce communication costs and drive social and economic growth in the continent.”

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