New broadband cable lands in SA

2011-04-19 17:02

Johannesburg - A new undersea telecommunications cable has landed in SA, investors announced on Tuesday, saying the link would double the broadband capacity of the continent's largest economy.

The 14 000km West Africa Cable System (Wacs) fibre optic line links the Western Cape province to London, giving African internet providers a direct connection to servers in Europe, its sponsors said.

The $650m system will increase South Africa's broadband capacity by more than 500Gb/s, said South African telecommunications provider Telkom, one of the 12 companies in the project.

That is the equivalent of more than 500 complete DVD downloads per second, a Telkom spokesperson said.

The cable also has landing points in 10 other countries along Africa's western coast and promises to boost the bandwidth of the world's least-connected region, investors said.

Internet boom

"Africa has until now been a cyclist on the information superhighway," said Karel Pienaar, managing director for South Africa-based mobile service provider MTN, another partner in the project.

"We sincerely believe that the commercialisation of Wacs and other submarine cables will set the stage for a mobile revolution that will enhance the quality of life for millions of people across the continent," Pienaar said in a statement.

Wacs is the latest in a series of submarine cables that hold the promise of an internet boom for Africa, where only 9.6% of people are web users, compared to 65% of Europeans.

The capacity of Africa's fibre optic cable connections has expanded dramatically since 2009, when the continent relied mainly on slower satellite connections.

But the increased capacity has often been slow to reach residents, especially in rural areas, as service providers have lagged behind in building "last mile" infrastructure - the wires, cables and towers needed to get data to and from the end user.

  • Lihle - 2011-04-19 17:28

    Ok we're getting there but for crying out loud, what the hell is 500Gb/s when we really need something closer to 5000Gigs per sec?

      Allieo - 2011-04-19 17:45

      I use about 8 Gig a day at home, we are blessed, I can stream 2 movies support Skype and the kids game online all at once, thank god for the flat rate of R 270 n month.....

      sokis210 - 2011-04-19 21:32

      Allieo, what service provider are you using? I mean the rental only from Telkom for speed over 1Mbps is over R400-00 before ISP data...

      Happy-go-lucky - 2011-04-20 10:11

      Allieo, please share dude...would love to know what you got there

      Kunikos - 2011-05-24 07:43

      @ Allieo, and I bet the Easter Bunny visits you as well.

      Richard - 2011-06-23 18:04

      Try Cybersmart - for R300 (includes ADSL rental + data) a month on a 384K connection i download close to 40GB a month - 15GB cap + 12:30-07:00 free download..

  • frodob - 2011-04-19 17:56

    According to we're looking at 5.12 Tb/s worth of capacity on WACS, which dwarfs Seacom.

  • SaintBruce - 2011-04-19 18:06

    Average DVD is 4.76 Gb so a speed of 500 GB/s ( If Gigabytes not Giga bits) cannot equate to complete DVD downloads, right? You would have thought that either a telkom spokesperson would know that ( it's their business) or the journalist writing this on an internet platform would have understood the maths. Just saying. Reporting and public commentary really have to raise the bar ... a lot. Or is this a result of OBE?

      Banned - 2011-04-19 18:22

      Its supposed to be a 5.12 terabits per second line, but we share with the DRC, Angola, Namibia etc, of which we get 500 gigabits per second

  • Michael Pitt - 2011-04-19 18:09

    and you will get charged an arm and a leg and stil have to pay the telkom(goverment) to rent the line aswell

      Superdude - 2011-04-19 18:49

      No Michael - The cable is not Telkom owned but owned by a consortium of African providers including all the major SA players MTN, Vodacom, Neotel, Broadband Infraco and Telkom. So it is up to each individual company to decide how they use the bandwidth they have bought. What this means is far more capacity in SA as this cable is bigger than all the others combined already landed here. At 650 million US dollars the cable didnt come cheap so there would be no immediate impact on prices, but that will come give it a bit of time. We should be celebrating this infrastructure not mocking it. Be positive mate... This is a good thing. It is also landed at a new site away from the other two landing points in SA which means that should something go wrong on other cables, latency would also improve. With all the goings on in this country, lets try and support the good things that happen. d

  • Jason - 2011-04-19 18:19

    How will this benefit the consumer? And when will we begin to see better and cheaper offerings?

      Banned - 2011-04-19 18:24

      When the government not longer owns telkom and the free market sets the prices

  • The_Realist - 2011-04-19 22:10

    this is how siffefrica is ranked according to, number 38 Ghana, 9.20 Mbps and number 92 (in the world) South Africa, 3.01 Mbps ( i am VERY sure people in ghana are not paying the rip-off prices we are here let alone other 1st world places! Our pathetic world internet speed ranking is even worse than bafuna bafuna's world ranking.

  • NO Name - 2011-04-20 08:30

    Some of you guys sound quite clever regarding these things so give me accurate advise please. I am currently on contract with Telkom and receive 5 Gig per month. My download speed barely goes higher than 40kilobyte per second. Downloading a movie of approximately 800megabyte takes a whole freakin day (sometimes more). I am paying approx R270 pm for this service. How will the new cable influence my contract with Telkom, will my speed automatically increase, do I need to sign up for an upgrade at possibly a higher cost, etc. Any relevant information on this topic is appreciated. Information on speeding up my current download speed (I mostly download from Isohunt) will be welcomed.

      Happy-go-lucky - 2011-04-20 10:06

      Hi No-name, im not too sure what is going to happen...but one thing that i can advise on, is that if you have to upgrade your account for higher speeds (chances are 99% you will have to - as we south africans get ripped off dearly unfortunately, nothing comes free) be on the look out for 'unshaped' packages. Providers have a new option for that. Even though they advertise 'unshaped', they still DRASTICALLY shape them. Be on the lookout for packages that DONT support P2P etc. HTML browsing is fine, but these snakes always find a way to rip you off. Sorry if this isnt really what you looking for, but its just some advice

      Spoofed - 2011-04-20 13:35

      No Name.. Upgrade your line speed to at least a 1m b if you can...sounds like you got a 384kb line there. also don't get your data from telkom, you can get it way cheaper somewhere else... I'm with afrihost and i pay R190 for 10gb's... Don't ever go for uncapped...stick with a capped package (set amount of Gb's per month that YOU control) and you will be a happier internet junkie =)

  • Nicolai - 2011-04-20 08:38

    Telkom invests in a thousand km underwater cable ...yet it takes them a year (and counting) to build infrastructure 100 meters to my house...

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