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SEACOM (African cable system)

SEACOM launched Africa’s first broadband submarine cable system along the continent’s Eastern and Southern coasts in 2009.

SEACOM
SEACOM Network Diagram.jpg
Owners:
Landing points
see the landing points section
Design capacity12 Tbit/s[2]
Currently lit capacity500 Gbit/s[3]
TechnologyFiber optics
Date of first useJuly 23, 2009 (2009-07-23)
Websiteseacom.com
SEACOM's logo

Today SEACOM is the preferred partner for African businesses, network carriers, and service providers.

Through its ownership of Africa’s most extensive ICT data infrastructure – including multiple subsea cables and a resilient, continent-wide IP-MPLS network – SEACOM provides a full suite of flexible, scalable and high-quality communications and cloud solutions that enable the growth of the continent’s economy.

SEACOM is privately owned and operated, allowing the company the agility to rapidly tailor-make and deploy new services, commercial models, and infrastructure in response to customer requirements. Without the red tape or hidden costs often prevalent in this industry.

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

Cable structure and technologyEdit

 
A cross section of the shore-end of a modern submarine communications cable. 1     Polyethylene2     Mylar tape 3      – Stranded steel wires4     Aluminium water barrier 5     Polycarbonate6     Copper or aluminium tube 7     Petroleum jelly8     Optical fibers

Fibre-optic pairs are provided from Mtunzini to France to a point of presence (PoP) in Marseille, as well as from Tanzania to India into a PoP in Mumbai.

SEACOM has also built an on-net European network, managed and operated by themselves, to deliver transport layer, internet protocol (IP), and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services from Africa to the following cities in Europe, and vice versa:

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Marseille, France
  • Slough, United Kingdom

Through third-party networks in Europe, SEACOM also delivers these services to other locations in Europe not covered in the list of cities above.

The SEACOM cable is deployed with a mixture of double armour cable, single armour cable, special protection cable (with a metallic wrap below the insulator, rather than steel wires), and lightweight cable without armour, used in deep waters. Shallower water cable typically has more protective armour than offshore, deeper cable.

The cable is a loose tube design that determines the amount and relative location along the transmission path of each type of fibre. Multiple fibre types are used in the cable: dispersion-shifted and non-zero dispersion-shifted.

The repeaters are optical amplifier repeaters, using erbium-doped amplifiers. There are over 150 repeaters in the SEACOM system. They are spaced along the cable many tens of kilometres apart with the distance between repeaters varying depending on the segment in the system. Repeater spacing is determined by a variety of factors, including the transmission capacity of the fibres in the cable and the distance between cable landing points.

On 23 July 2009, the 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) cable began operations, providing the eastern and southern African countries of Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa with high-speed Internet connectivity to Europe and Asia. The cable was officially switched on in simultaneous events held across the region, in Mombasa, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Upon being switched on, SEACOM stated that it would "reduce Internet costs by up to 95% to wholesale customers while providing a far greater speed of Internet connection. It may take a long time for the benefits to reach ordinary citizens, particularly those who live in remote rural areas."

Project fundingEdit

SEACOM is privately-funded, and approximately 75% African-owned. Initial private investment in the SEACOM project was US$375 million: $75 million from the developers, $150 million from private South African investors, and $75 million as a commercial loan from Nedbank (South Africa). The remaining $75 million was provided by Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), which is the industrial and infrastructure arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. The IPS investment was funded by $15 million in equity, and a total of $60.4 million in debt from the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and the FMO.[4][clarification needed]

Current ownership structure is as follows: 30% IPS, 30% Remgro, 15% Sanlam, 15% Convergence Partners, and 10% by Brian Herlihy.[5]

The cable is variously described as a $600 and a $650 million project, and has seen a number of upgrades to landing station infrastructure, national backhaul and increases to carrying capacity, with an increase to 2.6 terabits per second (Tbit/s) in May 2012,[6] and then to 12 Tbit/s in 2014.[7]

Landing pointsEdit

 
SEACOM Network Map

The cable landing points are:

In addition, as of August 2019, backhaul solutions allow onwards connectivity from the coastal landing points to:

  • London, United Kingdom
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Kigali, Rwanda
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

SEACOM Partner Network landing points include:

  • Yzerfontein, South Africa
  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Accra, Ghana
  • Fujairah, UAE

Social and economic implicationsEdit

East Africa has been one of the last significant regions lacking broadband Internet access. Broadband access is expected to narrow the digital divide between Africa and wealthier geopolitical regions and is also expected to be a major advantage to many local industries, particularly those based on offshoring.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Seacom 'no comment' on FibreCo 'acquisition' talks". TechCentral (South Africa). 23 August 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Investment structure
  5. ^ "Seacom 'no comment' on FibreCo 'acquisition' talks". TechCentral (South Africa). 23 August 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  6. ^ Seacom upgrades
  7. ^ [3]

External linksEdit