Alcatel-lucent to extend WACS cable from Portugal to the UK


Alcatel-Lucent will extend the West Africa Cable System (WACS) from Portugal to the UK to meet the increasing need for capacity driven by broadband services penetration. Spanning 2,000 km and operating at 40 gigabit per second (40G), this new section will increase the overall design capacity from 3.8 Terabit/s (Tbit/s) to 5.12 Tbit/s, equal to the download of 8 million MP3 files or over 8 thousand DVDs in 60 seconds.

This extension follows the recent successful field trial with Alcatel-Lucent of 40G solution, which also leverages next-generation coherent technology, and will further bolster connectivity along the Africa-Europe route, by enabling improved communications and Internet services that are crucial for a social and economic development.

The WACS consortium is composed of 12 parties: Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, MTN, Office Congolais des Postes et Télécommunications, Portugal Telecom / Cabo Verde Telecom, Tata Communications / Neotel, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Telecom and Vodacom.

With commercial service expected by 2011, WACS will provide Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and the Republic of Congo with the first direct access to the global submarine cable communication network. It will connect South Africa to the UK with landings in Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, and Portugal.

Under the terms of this contract extension, WACS will deploy advanced GMPLS capabilities providing dynamic and automated service provisioning for highest quality of service. Thanks to this ‘intelligent’ network management, WACS will be able to optimize the network’s resource usage which will improve the network’s resiliency.

“The African continent is definitely one of the continents still yearning for affordable connectivity. Meeting the needs for increased capacity along the cable route, this network will enable the landing countries to be served by a new system offering greater capacity and lowering the cost of broadband access in support of innovative applications such as e-education and e-health that can positively impact peoples’ lives,” said Kobus Stoeder, Chairman of the WACS Management Committee. “The Alcatel-Lucent solution optimally meets our key requirements for multi-vendor compatibility, network availability and traffic protection to deliver the highest service reliability.”

“As traffic grows, service providers need to optimize their networks in support of end-users’ bandwidth demands for broadband services” said Philippe Dumont, head of Alcatel-Lucent’s submarine network activity. “Our newest 40G technology, combined with our leading-edge protection capabilities, will accelerate the provisioning of connectivity and enhanced network resilience so that end-users can enjoy the best experience possible.”

The cable will be laid by Alcatel-Lucent’s cable ships the Ile de Bréhat and the Ile de Sein. These purpose built ships can hold up to 6,000 km of cable in their tanks and are designed for the installation of trans-oceanic cables in all weather conditions.

The WACS submarine cable system is approximately 14,500km in length and will provide Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and the Republic of Congo with the first direct access to the global communication network.

Alcatel-Lucent has already installed a separate shore end at Portugal for this project. The remainder of the lay is split over three distinct marine operations taking, in total, approximately 350 days (but a significant amount of these marine operations take place in parallel).

The typical laying speeds are approximately 170km / day (surface lay) and approximately 17 – 20km / day (in ploughed sections depending on the depth of burial required).

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