MTN, Vodacom consortium launches west Africa undersea cable


$650 million submarine network system provides extra 400 Gbps of capacity. South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. said Friday’s launch of a submarine cable running from Cape Town to London will significantly increase broadband capacity along the western coast of Africa.

Construction of the cable, known as the West Africa Cable System, started in 2009 and was jointly paid for by a consortium that includes MTN, Vodacom Group Ltd. and telecommunications companies in the countries where the cable stops along the way, such as Angola and Namibia.
The cable cost $650 million to build and MTN said it spent about $90 million plus investments in building facilities in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast to connect the cable. MTN has access to about 11% of the cable’s capacity and said it is the largest investor in the new cable.
The cable stops at 15 terminal stations in Africa, which include South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Vodacom said the new cable adds more than 400 Gigabits a second of international broadband capacity, which is equal to the download of 4.8 million MP3 files or more than 5,000 DVDs a minute.
Demand for broadband access is growing rapidly, especially through the use of Internet on phones. MTN said in South Africa alone consumer demand for data quadrupled during 2011, while smart phone usage increased by 128% to 3.6 million users.