Orange hooks up Chinese subsea cable in Marseille

The latest subsea cable designed to ease capacity constraints in East Africa has landed in Marseille, according to Orange, which will operate the landing station in the French city.

The China-backed PEACE (or Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe) cable – nice work on the acronym – has come ashore in France and will be commissioned for use next year. Landing party Orange will now extend the system to a major data centre in Marseille where the submarine line terminal equipment is located, it said.

“For Orange, having capacity on PEACE will provide greater route diversity, improved connection security and guaranteed support for increased capacity across all regions in the Indian Ocean zone, particularly La Réunion and Mayotte, especially reducing its dependency on the EASSy cable which links Djibouti to South Africa,” said Jean-Luc Vuillemin, EVP of International Networks at Orange, in a statement.

Specifically, Orange is looking to benefit from increased capacity between Marseille and Kenya to support traffic growth in East Africa. As such, it teamed up with PEACE Cable International Network, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shanghai-listed networks and power company Hengtong, and PCCW Global almost three years ago, before inking a formal deal in September 2019 enabling it to take part in the PEACE subsea cable project.

At the time, Orange made much of the fact that “this agreement marks the arrival of the first Chinese private submarine cable in France.” Two years on, it appears to be glossing over the key role of the Chinese company in the project.

That aside, the cable is clearly good news for Eastern Africa. “PEACE will provide the most direct and high-capacity route from Asia and East Africa to Europe,” the partners proudly proclaimed, adding that its low latency will support a wide variety of commercial and consumer applications. In addition to providing that all-important reduction in dependency on existing cable systems, of course.

“We are thrilled with the successful execution of Marseille landing, achieving yet another important milestone towards completing the construction of PEACE Cable System,” said Haitham Zahran, VP EMEA Subsea Cable Systems, at PCCW Global.

“This achievement would not have been possible without the support of Orange, local partners, the local authorities and service providers located in Marseille,” he added. “We are looking forward to completing the end-to-end testing and commissioning of PEACE system, which includes Infinera and HMN Tech terminal equipment, and to launching PEACE in Q1 2022.”

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