Google says new undersea cable will triple internet speeds in South Africa

 ·6 Oct 2021

The new subsea Equiano cable linking Africa and Europe will significantly decrease internet costs and triple internet speeds in South Africa, says Google.

In an online briefing on Wednesday (6 October), Google Africa managing director Nitin Gajria said the company is making steady progress in constructing the cable, with branches landing in Nigeria, Namibia, St Helena and South Africa.

Equiano will start in western Europe and run along the West Coast of Africa, between Portugal and South Africa, with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries.

“Equiano will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve South Africa,” he said. “This will lead to a 21% drop in internet prices as well as five-fold internet speed and almost triple in South Africa.”

Google’s private subsea cables all carry the names of historical luminaries. Equiano is named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, Gajria said.

“The cable will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching.

“This greatly simplifies the allocation of cable capacity, giving us the flexibility to add and reallocate it in different locations as needed. And because Google fully funds Equiano, we’re able to expedite our construction timeline and optimize the number of negotiating parties.”

In the same presentation, Google announced plans to invest $1 billion (R15.1 billion) over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation. The company said that the investment would focus on:

  • Fast, affordable internet access for more Africans;
  • Building helpful products;
  • Supporting entrepreneurship and small business;
  • Helping nonprofits to improve lives across Africa.

“We’ve made huge strides together over the past decade — but there’s more work to do to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African,” said Google and Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai.

“Today, I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups.”

Read: Multichoice launches DStv Internet in South Africa.

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