The WACS Consortium and Alcatel-Lucent have signed a turnkey contract valued at several hundred million US dollars to deploy a new submarine cable network that will provide the first direct connection between Southern Africa and Europe.
Named the West Africa Cable System (WACS), this 14,000km-long submarine network system will bolster Internet and other communications capabilities to and from the African continent. The 11 parties that form the consortium are Angola Telecom, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, MTN, Portugal Telecom, Sotelco, Tata Communications, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Telecom and Vodacom. WACS will open access to faster connectivity to support innovative IP-based services such as video applications for e-education and healthcare. Meeting the needs for increased capacity along the cable route, it will further reduce the digital divide, enabling the landing countries to be served by a new system offering greater capacity and lowering the cost of broadband access. Commercial service is expected in 2011. Alcatel-Lucent will provide connectivity between South Africa and Portugal. With a minimum design capacity of 3.84 Terabit/s, WACS will connect South Africa to the UK. There will be 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.