Alcatel-Lucent strengthened its grip on the African market today with a deal to extend the $600 million (€475 million) West Africa Cable System to the UK.
The vendor will provide the final link in the South Africa to UK submarine network, providing a 2,000km extension connecting Portugal to the British Isles, and providing a welcome boost in the cable’s overall capacity that will help WACS compete against two existing networks when opens for business in 2011.
Alcatel-Lucent said the WACS cable would have a capacity of 5.12 terabits once the extension is complete, up from 3.8 terabits at present.
Competitor Main One Cable Company’s 7,000km-long Africa to Europe submarine cable has a capacity of 2 terabits.
Both firms are vying for a slice of the underserved African market, which WACS chairman Kobus Stoeder said “is definitely one of the continents still yearning for affordable connectivity.”
The cable company is a consortium of 12 companies, including MTN, Portugal Telecom, Tata Communications, Telecom Namibia and Vodacom.
Main One claimed its $240 million fiber network offered ten times the capacity of the South Atlantic Terminal 3 cable – previously the only cable option in the area- when it launched in July.