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Telkom undersea capacity upgraded

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reuben_septemberUSE.jpgThere are at least nine undersea telecommunication cables (including SAT3 and SAFE) that will connect various parts of Sub-Saharan Africa to the rest of the world by the end of 2011.

Importantly, figures from 2003 to 2009 indicate that, STM-1 IPLC (International Private Leased Circuit) pricing to Europe have seen substantial reductions, while cable upgrades have contributed to significant increases in the total available capacity. SAT3 and SAFE, for example, commenced service in 2002 with a mere 20Gb/s of equipped capacity but, by the end of October 2009, both cables will be equipped with capacity that exceeds 300Gb/s.

Furthermore, during the period 1993 to 2009, while the total cumulative investment in submarine cables continued increasing, the cost per gigabit after each upgrade continued reducing owing to technology changes and the fact that only land-based equipment needed to be additionally equipped.

“In essence, statistical trends clearly show that while capital investment and overall cable capacity have been significantly enhanced over the recent years, the costs per Gig capacity over the concomitant period have drastically dropped,” said Alphonzo Samuels, Telkom’s Managing Executive for Wholesale Services.

He added: “From a Telkom perspective, between 2002 and 2009, there has been an IPLC price decrease of 90% since the inception of the SAT3/WACS/SAFE cable system – S3WS for short. What this essentially means is that Telkom has enabled the market to pass on price reductions to their customers.”

As far as upgrades go, Samuels explained that Telkom’s undersea capacity has been significantly upgraded, especially with the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in mind. “For example, by the end of 2009, the SAT-3 and SAFE upgrades to at least three times their current capacity will be concluded,” stated Samuels.

“This is extremely significant to us as a national supporter of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Remember that, even without the latest upgrades, the backbone ICT infrastructure that was provisioned by Telkom for the FIFA Confederations Cup that was played during June this year, saw 100% broadcast efficiencies being enabled by Telkom without a single second of downtime being recorded,” Samuels said.

He added that SAT3 provided the shortest route to Europe while SAFE was the shortest link to Asia. “Furthermore, S3WS, not only offers fully diverse solutions out of South Africa, but also has adequate spare capacity to fully cater for 2010. From an undersea capacity perspective, therefore, it’s all systems go for the World Cup next year,” emphasised Samuels.

He also explained Telkom’s robust strategy with regard to cable investments. Samuels stated that leading and participating in well financed cable consortiums with leading African and global operators enabled Telkom to secure ownership in numerous geographically relevant cables without having to fund the full cable cost on its own.

Telkom’s investment contribution in core cables attested to this, said Samuels. The Company’s cable investments included COLUMBUS3, SEA-ME-WE3 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe), SAT3/WASC/SAFE (South Atlantic Telecommunications / West Africa Submarine Cable /South Africa Far East), EASSy (East Africa Submarine Cable System), EIG (Europe India Gateway) and WACS (West Africa Cable System).

“We prefer to invest in consortium cables as consortiums comprise of global operators with financial strength, operating experience, significant customer bases and market share as well as diverse revenue streams,” Samuels said.

“Our investments are therefore geared by the participation of other operators and we firmly believe that investment sharing translates to better unit costs and improved customer prices,” he added.

On the issue of undersea bandwidth prices, Samuels stressed that it was important to compare “apples with apples”. In general, when purchasing undersea bandwidth connectivity from Telkom, customers also acquired redundancy, security, preventative maintenance, protection, restoration, superior availability as well as a proven track record in excess of 15 years.

“Telkom offerings, to date, have only been premium packages but, as from today (12 October), a new IPLC product called City to City has been launched by Telkom,” announced Samuels.

The new service offering is a full circuit from Telkom’s Barrack Street or New Doornfontein exchanges via Melkbosstrand to Telehouse East or Telecity 1 in London. City to City bandwidth options will initially comprise an STM-1 offering that is route specific. Access to the customer premises from the Telkom point-of-presence is excluded and no restoration or redundancies are included.

“The Synchronous Transport Module level-1, or STM-1, has a data capacity of 155 Mb/s,” explained Samuels.

He also advised that, in general, consumers of undersea bandwidth should ensure that their service provider enabled local access while providing a fully protected backhaul, in-system cable protection, cable restoration and offered competitive pricing, cable route safety as well as special cable precautionary measures.

“We are confident that Telkom offers all of this and, as from today, has even diversified our international undersea cable product offering to cater for different market needs,” concluded Samuels.

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