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re - Africa's largest undersea Internet cable to land this month - April 2011

This is some great news:

A new undersea telecommunications cable to boost Africa's Internet access will land this month, mobile service provider MTN said Thursday, calling it the continent's largest data pipeline yet.

The 14,000-kilometre (8,700-mile) West Africa Cable System (WACS) fibre optic line is scheduled to reach South Africa's Western Cape province on April 18, linking the continent's Internet providers directly to the servers of Europe and boosting the bandwidth of the world's least-connected region.

The cable starts in London and will connect 15 points along Africa's western coast, said MTN, which has a $90-million (63-million-euro) stake in the $650-million system and is the project's single largest investor.

The new link is the latest in a series of submarine cables that hold the promise of an Internet explosion for Africa, where only 9.6 percent of people are web users, compared to 65 percent of Europeans.

The capacity of Africa's fibre optic cable connections has expanded almost 300-fold since 2009, when the continent relied mainly on excruciatingly slow satellite connections, and will expand another 23 percent with the launch of the 5,120-gigabit WACS.

"WACS will ... go a long way towards catapulting Africa into the digital age," said Karel Pienaar, managing director for MTN South Africa.

"Lack of bandwidth on the continent has arrested the development of Africa and has constrained the continent from achieving its full potential."

MTN said it has been allocated an initial 11 percent of the cable's capacity when it goes live for commercial use in the second quarter.

source: http://sg.finance.yahoo.com/news/Africa-largest-undersea-afpsg-614778392.html?x=0

Could we say these are the golden days for internet access in Africa, where the buisness is in the hands of just few? Yes, but surely, gone are the days when we would hear the news that sharks in the ocean were the one's the damaged(ate) Nigeria's SAT-3 cables and thats why our internet access was off.

First it was the SAT-3(click here and here), then GLO-1(click here and here), and recently the Main One Cable (click here and here) and now WACS(West African Cable System? I must say we are having our hands full little by little.

With more entrants into the Submarine Cable industry for Africa, existing cable owners and service providers would have to either shape up real fast or ship out. SAT-3 was almost becoming a fish's-bone stuck in the throat of the many NITEL-subscribers until Glo-1 and Main Cable started making some noise about launching. It was only then that SAT-3 decided it was time to shape up. And even after shaping up, they lost a couple of customers after the new entrants began full time buisness.

With the WASC coming in, the competition to drop prices will only get hotter, and I hope services will get better. And maybe its time to subscribe to MTN?

Karel Pienaar, MTN South Africa MS said: "Wacs will provide millions of MTN subscribers across Africa the much-needed bandwidth and will go a long way towards catapulting Africa into the digital age. Lack of bandwidth on the continent has arrested the development of Africa and has constrained the continent from achieving its full potential. MTN's investment in WACS and a myriad of other submarine cables bears testimony to the company's commitment towards the development of the continent and reaffirms our long-held confidence in the future of the continent." source: click here

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