France TelecomOrange has announced that the Africa Coast to Europe (Ace) submarine cable is now operational for the first phase linking France and Sao Tomé & Principe.
The cable, which will extend down to South Africa for the second phase, provides connectivity to broadband internet in Africa and will add extra capacity to existing international networks, France TelecomOrange said.
Nearly 12,000 km of optical fibre running along the west coast of Africa have been deployed to connect 13 countries from France to Sao Tomé & Principe.
Two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, will also be connected through extensions to the terrestrial network. Finally, Nigeria will also be connected to the cable in 2013.
Seven of these countries – The Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tomé & Principe and Sierra Leone – will benefit for the first time from a direct connection to a submarine cable.
The commissioning of this first phase marks the beginning of the deployment plan for the Ace submarine cable, which will ultimately run for a total of approximately 17,000 km. Seven additional countries will be connected in the second phase.
France TelecomOrange, together with its subsidiaries Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, Orange Cameroon, Orange Mali, Orange Niger and Sonatel, have combined forces with other
major partners to form an international consortium.
The cable’s construction amounts to a total investment of around U$700 million for the consortium, with around $250 million financed by the group and its subsidiaries.
Through links to other submarine cables, Ace also provides an additional western route for traffic between Europe and Asia via Africa.
ACE relies on wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), which enables it to up capacity without additional submarine work. Overall capacity will be boosted to 5.12 Tbps using the new 40 Gbps technology which supports ultrahigh speed broadband networks.