Seacom goes live on Google’s Equiano cable

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 15 Mar 2023
The Google Equiano undersea cable system arrived in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, in August.
The Google Equiano undersea cable system arrived in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, in August.

Telecommunications and managed services provider Seacom has gone live on Google’s Equiano cable following the subsea cable’s landing in Cape Town, South Africa, in August.

Seacom services via the cable will be available from today.

In a statement, Seacom says it offers private line services with latency speeds of +/-110ms between South Africa and Europe, making it the fastest direct route between the continents.

The new development comes after Seacom fulfilled the necessary equipment and installation requirements with the help of its technology partner, Infinera.

The cable now forms part of Seacom’s subsea cable ecosystem surrounding Africa, which is supported by a continent-wide IP-MPLS network.

Google officially unveiled its Equiano submarine internet cable in Cape Town in August – a large-scale initiative in which the tech giant has invested a total of $1 billion.

Announced in 2019, Africa’s highest-capacity subsea internet cable, which landed at Melkbosstrand north of Cape Town, starts in Western Europe and runs along the West Coast of Africa, between Portugal and SA. Branching units along the way can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries.

“This launch results from years of project negotiations and planning, driven by a goal to be ready to offer quality service to our customers from day one,” says Prenesh Padayachee, Seacom group chief digital officer.

“The Equiano subsea cable represents a new stage in Africa’s digital transformation, meeting Africa’s growing data requirements, enabling cross-border digital trade, and offering citizens and enterprises new opportunities.”

“Infinera is delighted to partner with Seacom to light the Equiano subsea cable with our ICE6 800G technology,” says Nick Walden, Infinera senior vice-president of worldwide sales.

“With the industry’s highest spectral efficiency, ICE6 enables Seacom to maximise the number of high-speed services they can offer, providing multiple terabits of capacity on this critical subsea link.”

The Equiano cable stretches 15 000km from Portugal to South Africa, has 12 fibre pairs and a design capacity of 144Tbps.

In addition to its landing station in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, the cable has landing stations in Africa, in Rupert’s Bay, St Helena; Lomé, Togo; Lagos, Nigeria; and Swakopmund, Namibia.

From these stations, branching units will extend connectivity to other African countries, says Seacom.

It notes the launch comes after Seacom completed extensive work to support the new connection, including upgrades to its transmission and IP network locally and internationally.

As part of the service available to wholesale and enterprise clients from March, Seacom says it will offer an express route from Cape Town to Lisbon.

This means organisations will have high-speed connectivity without having their data rerouted to other countries during transmission.

“With the help of Infinera as our long-standing partner and equipment provider for our backhaul network in South Africa, Seacom has positioned itself as the go-to Pan-African telecommunications provider with direct access to the European market,” Padayachee comments.

“The Equiano subsea cable serves as an alternative route to and from the continent. This means we can accommodate even greater volumes of data traffic and ensure greater uptime availability. Clients can rest easy with the assurance that the available capacity will match their future growth plans and deliver high-performance results.”

In addition to impacting connectivity in the countries in which it lands, such as faster internet speeds and an improved user experience, the Equiano subsea cable is expected to have a major economic impact in these countries, Seacom explains.

It points out that according to a Regional Economic Impact Assessment by Africa Practice, commissioned by Google and published in 2021, the cable will increase South Africa’s GDP by $5.8 billion and create 180 000 indirect jobs by 2025.

“Internet penetration and the increased availability of digital services have been proven to directly affect economic growth and prosperity. With this in mind, it’s imperative that we work quickly and efficiently to offer the service our clients need and the quality of service they expect,” Padayachee says.

“Seacom is very proud to be at the forefront of this development, and we look forward to how it will enable us to expand our operations and product offerings across Africa.”