Africa’s ICT capability and capacity was enriched on Friday 11 May when the West Africa Cable System (WACS) was officially launched. One of the stakeholders in the project, Telkom, had the responsibility of landing WACS in South Africa and celebrated a milestone with the unveiling and opening of the landing station in Yzerfontein, North of Cape Town.
The assimilation of WACS into Telkom’s undersea cable portfolio will complete the company’s second ring of capacity around the African continent. The combination of S3WS, EASSy and SMW3 cables represent the first ring around the continent.
The new Cable Landing Station is owned, operated and maintained by Telkom, but running costs of the facilities will be shared by the WACS consortium parties using the station.
Telkom now operates submarine cable gateways in Mtunzini, Melkbosstrand and Yzerfontein providing the country with three international fibre gateways to minimise the risk of complete isolation in the event of a natural disaster or cable outage.
At the unveiling of the station, Telkom representatives confirmed the opening of the site was the culmination of an intense EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) process and working partnership with local communities, businesses and industry regulatory bodies (including fisheries).
The site plays a critical role in capturing and regulating the fibre landing along the trunk route on WACS. It features numerous high-tech control rooms, engine rooms and cooling stations, amongst other key areas used to managed and maintain the latest addition to the company’s submarine cable portfolio.
Dr. Angus Hay, co-chair of the WACS Management Committee, said, “The trunk route on WACS from Cape Town to London is over 14,000km long, with the express from South Africa to Portugal being 11,500km, one of the longest such segments in the world. Latency tests on the WACS system carried out earlier this year from Yzerfontein in South Africa to Highbridge in the UK measured a round trip delay (RTD) of 138.5 milliseconds, the lowest achieved so far over such a transoceanic distance.”
WACS is designed to support present and future Internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services, and the capacity of the entire system is 5.12 terabits per second (Tbps). It makes use of dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which enables the transport of multiple wavelengths over a single fibre pair, as well as multiplication of capacity.
“The demand for greater capacity and faster speeds is ever-present. The introduction of WACS will deliver connectivity to the continent like never before and Telkom is ready to deliver,” says Casper Kondo Chihaka, Telkom’s Managing Executive of Wholesale Services.