Facebook, and a group of telecommunications companies including China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange and Vodafone work together to build the “most comprehensive” submarine cable for the African continent and the Middle East region, where nearly a billion people are still not connected to the Internet.
The 2Africa project envisages companies laying cables spanning 37,000 km connecting Europe (via Egypt to the east), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia) and 21
In a joint statement, the companies said they expected the system to be operational by 2023 or early 2024. Once in operation, it should be able to deliver more than the total capacity of all submarine cables supplied to Africa today with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key parts of the system.
The companies, which include Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications company STC, Telecom Egypt and the African telecommunications company WIOCC, say that service providers in the countries where 2Africa Cable Lands have capacity in carrier-neutral data centers or open-access cable landing stations becomes a fair and just base.
Facebook and telecommunications operators did not disclose how much money they had invested in the project.
Najam Ahmad, Vice President of Network Infrastructure at Facebook, said 2Africa was “an essential part of our ongoing investments in Africa to get more people online on a faster internet. We saw firsthand the positive impact that improved connectivity has on communities, from education to healthcare. “
The submarine cable would also help Facebook and others reduce their bandwidth costs.
The Internet is a fusion of tiny pieces of code that move around the world in cables across the ocean floor. By the beginning of last year, 750,000 miles of cable had been laid worldwide.
Facebook’s involvement in 2Africa, which has a number of other connectivity efforts to get more people online, should come as no surprise. Telecommunications companies have been working on submarine cable projects for a long time, but in the past decade, several American technology companies have joined these efforts.
Google, Microsoft, According to the Washington-based research company TeleGeography, Facebook and Amazon now own or lease almost half of the underwater bandwidth. Google alone has secured at least 14 cables worldwide.
Last year, the search giant launched Equiano, a privately funded submarine cable connecting Europe and Africa. The first phase of this project should be completed in 2021. Both 2Africa and Equiano have contracted Alcatel Submarine Networks to build the cable.
American technology companies are not alone in their fascination with laying cables worldwide. China’s Huawei completed a 3,750-mile cable between Brazil and Cameroon at the end of 2018 and began working on a 7,500-mile cable that connects Europe, Asia and Africa last year.
WSJ reported last year that some unnamed current and former US officials were concerned that the Chinese technology giant’s cables were vulnerable to espionage. Huawei denied any threat.