JUST seven months after commencing cable construction and installation, and following a comprehensive program of testing, the WIOCC-EASSy cable is now complete, has gone live and is ready for business.
This marks the launch of the largest submarine system serving sub-Saharan Africa. The cable, which was completed on time and on budget, will revolutionize global connectivity in Africa, connecting 21 countries in eastern and southern Africa to the rest of the world.
“WIOCC’s EASSy cable went live last Friday and the first circuits are already being provisioned on the network. The success of the WIOCC-EASSy model, with 26 telecoms operators as members, means that we already have a large volume of traffic to load onto the network.
“WIOCC has sold more than 7Gbps of capacity and in total approximately two thirds of the initial lit capacity of 30Gbps (three 10Gbps wavelengths) has been sold. With another 80+ Gbps upgrade planned within the next six to twelve months and the option of lighting 40Gbps wavelengths in the future WIOCC will deliver the most cost effective and reliable bandwidth to the region for many years to com” said Chris Wood, the WIOCC CEO.
The EASSy cable is a 10,000 km fibre-optic submarine cable with the capability to deliver a massive 1.4 Terabits per second of capacity, making it the largest submarine cable system serving the African continent. Onward connectivity will be available into 12 landlocked African countries through shareholders’ backhaul networks, and to global business centres and internet exchanges using a variety of international cable systems, ensuring diversity and providing the most comprehensive reach of any system serving the region.
He said the launch of the WIOCC-EASSy cable significantly increases the diversity options available to service providers for their international connectivity.
In addition, EASSy is the only East African system with built-in, end-to-end resilience, being based on a “collapsed ring” design that minimises the impact of cable cuts and equipment failure. As a result, service providers now have the opportunity to differentiate themselves based on delivering high-reliability, high-performance international connectivity and internet services to their customers.
Joe Sloan, who represented the project Financiers, the IFC and the World Bank said the Completion of the EASSy submarine cable represents a major step forward in bringing the countries of the Eastern African Region closer together and closer to the rest of the world.
“The arrival of EASSy and low-cost access to the global communications network is a potential ‘game changer’, which should benefit the Region in the fields of business, medicine and education, and lead to improved employment opportunities.
“Seamless connection to the global internet will also improve peoples’ lives, increasing access to knowledge, research, services and entertainment,”” he said.
“EASSy is now ready for service and this is a new significant step in connecting the east coast of Africa to the internet and the rest of the world. It offers great potential for further economic and social development,” said Philippe Dumont, Head of Alcatel-Lucent’s submarine network activity.
On his part, the Chairman of the WIOCC Board, Mr John Sihra, who led the board in the handing over process said, “The launch of the EASSy system represents the realisation of our vision to bring high-performance communications and affordable, accessible internet to this region of Africa. The EASSy system and WIOCC will be instrumental in bridging the digital divide and in boosting growth opportunities for Africa and its people. EASSy’s reach is unparalleled, connecting countries that no other submarine system can serve.”
To ensure this reach, EASSy has 9 landing stations. These are in Port Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Moroni in the Comoros Islands, Toliary in Madagascar, Maputo in Mozambique and Mtunzini in South Africa
WIOCC-EASSy is the first east coast system to connect on a direct route to Europe, making it the lowest latency system for traffic to key internet peering points in Europe and North America. In contrast, other recently-launched systems use a longer path to reach Europe, via connections to either India or UAE.
EASSy is owned by 14 telecommunications service providers – 92 per cent owned by African operators and 8 per cent by international operators. WIOCC is the single largest investor in EASSy with a 29 per cent shareholding. Orange–Telkom is the WIOCC shareholder in Kenya.
BRIAN ADERO in Nairobi, Kenya