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Google’s undersea cable lands in Melkbosstrand – promising cheaper, faster internet for SA

Google’s Equiano subsea internet cable has made its way to South Africa, recently landing at Telkom’s facility in Melkbosstrand, completing the course from Portugal along the West Coast of Africa.

Google’s third private international subsea cable, connecting Africa with Europe, was announced in June 2019. Promising faster internet speeds and reduced internet prices, the state-of-the-art 144Tbps, 12 fibre pair Equiano cable runs from Lisbon to Cape Town, connecting to branch units along the West Coast of Africa in Nigeria and Namibia.

The cable’s arrival in Cape Town on 8 August came a month after its landing in Swakopmund, Namibia, and four months after making land in Nigeria. The West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) partnered with Google in Equiano’s Nigerian landing and owns a full fibre pair on the system.

“Our investment in Equiano continues our long-standing policy of making strategic investments in subsea cables,” said WIOCC Group CEO Chris Wood in a recent statement welcoming the cable’s arrival near Cape Town.

“We own almost a third of the  [Eastern Africa Submarine] system, which extends from South Africa along Africa’s eastern coastline to Djibouti and Port Sudan, we deliver more capacity than any other carrier on the WACS [West Africa Cable] system, which links South Africa to Western Europe and lands in many countries along the west coast of Africa, and we are a member of the 2Africa cable, which will bring another high-capacity connectivity option to Africa during 2023/24.”

Google’s newest cable, named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, is said to have 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region, according to the global tech giant.

Equiano “will have a direct impact on connectivity throughout the Southern Africa region” when it comes online later this year, added WIOCC.

The 2Africa cable, anticipated to be the longest subsea cable in the world, connecting three continents, Africa, Europe, and Asia, is expected to come online in 2024, with landings in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.

China Mobile International, Meta, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC make up the 2Africa consortium, which says that once completed, the cable will “bring seamless international connectivity” to some 3 billion people.