“Demand for greater capacity and faster speeds is ever-present” – Telkom

Today’s launch of the ultra-high capacity West African Cable System (WACS) linking Southern Africa and Europe is a significant addition to Telkom’s vast international submarine cable portfolio.

Casper Kondo Chihaka, Telkom’s Managing Executive of Wholesale Services (image: Telkom)

The introduction of WACS into Telkom’s undersea cable portfolio will complete the company’s second ring of capacity around the African continent. The S3WS, EASSy and SMW3 cables already form a ring around Africa. With the introduction of WACS together with EASSy and EIG a high capacity ring between SA and Europe has now been formed.

Equipped with extensive undersea cable development and maintenance experience as well as the availability of the necessary facilities Telkom was given the responsibility of landing WACS in South Africa.

Since the landing of the cable in April 2011, a new Cable Landing Station has been established in Yzerfontein, north of Cape Town. The Cable Landing Station is owned, operated and maintained by Telkom however the costs of the facilities will be shared by the WACS Consortium parties using the station.

Telkom now operates submarine cable gateways at Mtunzini, Melkbosstrand and Yzerfontein providing South Africa with three international fibre gateways to minimise the risk of complete isolation in the event of a natural disaster or cable outage.

The commercial availability of WACS provides Telkom with significant capacity at each of the three cable gateways into and out of the country making it possible to offer more diverse, redundant, high capacity global service solutions.

“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.

Designed to support present and future Internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services, the capacity of the entire system is 5.12 terabits per second (Tbps). The system 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 initial capacity of WACS is over 500 Gbps and is upgradable at any stage of the project life span. The robustness of the design will also enable the system to accommodate the latest developments in submarine fibre-optic technology.

“Capacity and speed is important and Telkom certainly has this, but depth of experience and the ability to innovate and utilise all the capabilities in the network to extract the value is crucial,” says Chihaka.

Telkom with its more than 143,000km terrestrial fibre network comprising amongst others of a DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) / ASTN (Automatically Switched Transport Network) is the only operator that can bring the capacity afforded by WACS closer to business, industry and consumer markets in South Africa.

“Not only do we have extensive national layers of fibre network but also regional, metro and access layers. Telkom has begun a network transformation program where one of the themes is to roll out 3,700 remote multi-service access nodes (MSANs) that will replace 2,700 older generation cabinets and add another 1,000 to their number and we also plan to replace the central office site that has digital subscriber line access multiplexer’s (DSLAMs) with multi-service access nodes (MSANs) over a five year period. South Africans desire more bandwidth, more content and higher speed and Telkom is hard at work to deliver the international content and applications transported on our high capacity submarine cable projects to our customers” he says.

MSANs can be used to offer higher speed ADSL (ADSL 2+), very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL), and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services.  These new cabinets offer speeds of up to 1Gbps using fibre as the last mile, or up to 40Mbps using Telkom’s existing last-mile copper infrastructure, thus taking the huge capacity of WACS to the end user.

“This backed by world class and world best practice Network Operations Centre and our resources make us a preferred ICT services provider,” he concluded.

Staff writer


  1. With all the expansion in Broadband infrastructure it is clear that Telkom will remain the dominant player in the broadband market, still for years to come. I just hope the top management structure becomes stable. It cost structure for broadband service must come down, though.

Comments are closed.