Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) has signed a turnkey contract valued at over 500 million US dollars with Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), a newly formed consortium composed of 20 operators linking Cape Town in South Africa to Penmarch in France via a submarine cable network. This new submarine network system, with built-in 40 Gbit/s capability, will span over 17,000 km and will deliver super fast broadband communications to and from the African continent and Europe.
Upon expected commercial service in the first half of 2012, this network will bring broadband optical data connectivity for the first time to the people of Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea. It will also provide a higher level of service and traffic protection in the region by featuring Alcatel-Lucent’s technology advancements in next-generation coherent technology, including innovations from Bell Labs, to deal with transmission impairments in a cost–effective and automated manner.
Initiated and headed by France Telecom-Orange, the consortium is composed of twenty parties: Baharicom Development Company, Benin Telecoms, Cable Consortium of Liberia, Orange Cameroun, Companhia Santomense de Telecomunicações, Côte d’Ivoire Telecom Expresso Telecom Group, France Telecom, Gambia Telecommunications Company, International Mauritania Telecom, Office Congolais des Postes et Télécommunication, Orange Guinea, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, PT Comunicações, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the Gabonese Republic, Sierra Leone Cable, Société des Télécommunications de Guinée and Sonatel.
With an ultimate design capacity of 5.12 Terabit/s, ACE has built-in 40 Gbit/s, providing the broadband infrastructure that will address present and future needs for connectivity and capacity. This new super high speed data network will cost-effectively support innovative broadband services such as e-education and healthcare applications. These applications will also benefit from a dedicated initiative from Baharicom in collaboration with philanthropic organizations, to establish a broadband capacity endowment to provide capacity grants for development programs and charitable institutions.
ACE’s costal route will link South Africa to France - via Namibia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Tenerife (Spain) and Portugal – and will have 21 landing points along the route.
“ACE is further proof of the need for faster and more cost-effective capacity and alternative route to provide everyone with broadband access, so crucial to social and economic development,” said Yves Ruggeri, Chairman of the consortium’s Management Committee. “Alcatel-Lucent combines field-proven experience, reliability and the customer focus we need for such a crucial project that will set a new milestone in the development of the African communication infrastructure.”
“ACE is set to advance the African communication infrastructure with new connectivity to expand the adoption of basic and advanced broadband services at affordable rates,” said Philippe Dumont, head of Alcatel-Lucent’s submarine network activity. “This new contract further confirms our commitment to put our newest 40Gbit/s technology at the service of information enablement to ensure that broadband access is economically spread throughout the continent , while improving service reach and stability.”