The newly-laid undersea West African Cable System is due to be switched on in May, which will bring Africa just one step closer to being a truly connected continent. With a number of other cables already linking the continent to other parts of the world, WACS will bring some relief to some parts in terms of internet availability and speeds.
Sean Nourse, executive for connectivity at Internet Solutions, commented that while the new system might not have an effect in South Africa, other parts of the continent will benefit from it in the long term.
“There’s enough capacity coming into SA already; the bottleneck is on national backhaul and the last mile [into homes]. The effect on the consumer all has to do with how much capacity Internet service providers choose to take on WACS, as they’re already invested elsewhere. But consumers won’t get better speeds for now and, as it’s a net new cost for service providers, you might not see prices fall immediately,” he told Tech Central.
Karel Pienaar, head of MTN Group’s SA operations, added that MTN is in dire need for more spectrum, which will give them the opportunity to activate more commercial networks that will make use of next-generation broadband technology.
“It will eventually benefit consumers in terms of pricing, but also in terms of experience. We do a lot of provisioning of international corporate bandwidth and wholesale to other operators and they are going to see benefits. Until spectrum scarcity is removed, price changes will be limited. From one petabyte at the end of last year, we’re now up to 1,3PB in this quarter,” he said.
“Africa has until now been a cyclist on the information superhighway. MTN’s investment in WACS will ensure that millions of our subscribers in South Africa and across the continent have the capacity and the ability to optimally utilise the data and telemetry offerings that modern telephony applications provide. We sincerely believe that the commercialisation of WACS and other submarine cables will set the stage for a mobile revolution that will enhance the quality of life for millions of people across the continent,” Pienaar told EE Publishers in January.
“Its design of 4 fibre pair and 128 wavelength technology make WACS the largest cable system to ever land in Sub Sahara Africa. It will be capable of carrying the equivalent traffic of Seacom, EASSy and SAT-3/WASC/SAFE cable systems combined. WACS will meet the demand for capacity well into the 1st quarter of the 21st century,” Dr Angus Hay of Neotel, Co-Chair of the WACS Management Committee, told MyBroadband.
The WACS cable system will have landing points in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Portugal and United Kingdom.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor