Seacom to double capacity, light up FibreCo assets

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 17 Jul 2019
Byron Clatterbuck, CEO of Seacom.
Byron Clatterbuck, CEO of Seacom.

Submarine cable operator Seacom is looking to double its capacity this year, while looking to light up recently-acquired FibreCo assets in SA.

This was revealed by Byron Clatterbuck, CEO of Seacom, during a media event this morning ahead of the company’s 10th birthday on 23 July.

Founded in 2009, Seacom is a submarine communications cable operator with a network of submarine and terrestrial as well as high-speed fibre-optic cable that serves the east and west coasts of Africa.

The company built the Africa's first submarine Internet cable along the east coast 10 years ago.

Seacom’s reach extends into Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The Pan-African network uses bundled backhaul, open access points of presence, and global partnerships to provide end-to-end wholesale and enterprise connectivity to the Internet for both African and international network and content service providers.

Since July 2009, Seacom has increased the availability of international bandwidth 10-fold, and especially in many of Africa’s most underserved nations.

“Given the rapid growth from various cloud service providers, as well as bandwidth-hungry corporates, Seacom is upgrading its subsea cable systems’ lit capacity from 1.5 terabytes today to three terabytes. The upgrade will be completed this year,” Clatterbuck told ITWeb via SMS after the event.

Lit capacity tracks the capacity available for use on a submarine cable. It’s a measurement of genuine traffic-carrying capability at a moment in time.

“At the same time, Seacom is lighting up its recently-acquired FibreCo fibre assets to deliver the international capacity into the South African market,” he added.

In November last year, Seacom announced it had concluded a sale agreement to acquire 100% of FibreCo Telecommunications for an undisclosed amount.

The company is of the view the acquisition is necessary for the evolution of the market, particularly in the move towards 5G with its requirement for pervasive fibre networks.

“As part of building that Internet superhighway, we have connected into more metros to keep more customers on the network. That’s why we acquired MacroLan in Cape Town and then SAI in Durban. More recently, we acquired FibreCo, enabling us to deliver more services into South Africa.”

In 2017,  Seacom acquired MacroLan to extend the reach of its fibre network to more metropolitan areas across SA. MacroLan owned and managed fibre infrastructure, offering clients broadband as well as value-added services.

In September 2018, it completed the 100% acquisition of SME-focused Internet service provider, SAI, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Both MacroLan and SAI have rebranded to Seacom.

On future acquisitions, Clatterbuck said Seacom is always looking and evaluating opportunities to acquire potential targets that have customers and fibre networks.

“What is important for us is driving up speed. It’s important that we balance the west and the east coasts to create a protected ring so that we create a superhighway that connects these parts. In SA, we will extend the capabilities that we currently offer in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town,” said Clatterbuck.

“A lot has happened over the past 10 years and we have come a long way. We have recently changed our corporate identity.

“The company has evolved from being identified as a massive construction project, in which more than $500 million was invested into the sub-sea infrastructure as part of the African network. Now we have become a data network service provider. We are the largest Internet provider in Africa; we connect all the major cloud service providers and things have really changed.”