The first direct subsea fibre-optic cable system that will connect SA to Brazil, and eventually to the US, is set for commercial launch in 2020, according to Seaborn Networks COO Andy Bax.
The independent submarine cable company, which operates the most direct subsea system between Brazil’s Sao Paulo and New York in the US, last year announced plans to build a route that would be Africa’s first direct connection to the US.
Currently, subsea cable systems which have landed on SA’s shores don’t cater for direct international connectivity. Cable projects such as the West Africa Cable System link SA with the UK along the west coast of Africa.
Seacom serves the east and west coasts of Africa, extending its reach into Europe and the Asia-Pacific via India, and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System runs from Mtunzini in SA to Port Sudan in Sudan, connecting countries in East Africa to the rest of the world.
The subsea cable system that Seaborn Networks plans to build will provide the direct route between Northern Brazil to Cape Town, effectively connecting Cape Town and New York via Brazil, says Bax.
The Seaborn Networks COO explains the project is in its development phase, which means doing a lot of work around technical specifications, physical routing and identifying potential landing sites on each of the coasts, as well as talking to all the different parties that have shown an interest in being on the cable.
He says the new cable system between Northern Brazil and Cape Town will cost anything in the region of $120 million to $140 million. “We envisage that by the end of this year, we’ll be finished with all the development of the project with the view that we’d start doing the marine survey.