France Telecom-Orange and the other members of the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) consortium recently announced that the ACE submarine cable is now operational for the first phase linking France and Sao Tomé & Principe
The announcement was made by members of the consortium during a ceremony held in Banjul, The Gambia. The cable, which will extend as far as South Africa for the second phase, provides connectivity to broadband internet in Africa and will add extra capacity to existing international networks.
Nearly 12,000 kilometres of optical fibre running along the west coast of Africa have been deployed to connect 13 countries from France to Sao Tomé & Principe. Two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, will also be connected through extensions to the terrestrial network while Nigeria will also be connected to the cable in 2013.
Seven of these countries – The Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tomé & Principe and Sierra Leone – will benefit for the first time from a direct connection to a submarine cable enabling them to enjoy optimal access to the international broadband network. By using this new network, the telecoms operators in these countries will now be able to develop innovative broadband services that are essential to their economic and social development.
The ACE cable will also contribute to the development of multinational companies present in Africa by improving connectivity between the local subsidiaries and their global networks. This will allow them to develop added-value services in areas such as Unified Communications, IT and customer relations.
The commissioning of this first phase marks the beginning of the deployment plan for the ACE submarine cable, which will ultimately run for a total of approximately 17,000 kilometres. Seven additional countries will be connected in the second phase.
The project is being implemented by France Telecom-Orange, together with its subsidiaries drawn from Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, Orange Cameroon, Orange Mali, Orange Niger and Sonatel. The total project cost is US $ 700 million for the consortium, with US $ 250 million being contributed by France Telecom and its subsidiaries.
Through links to other submarine cables, ACE will provide an additional western route for traffic between Europe and Asia via Africa. ACE, for example, offers an alternative and secure route for communications to countries already connected to the SAT3-WASC-SAFE cable linking Portugal and Malaysia. Finally, the cable also diversifies transmission arteries between Portugal and France.
ACE relies on what is currently the most advanced technology used for submarine cables: wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) in which cable capacity can be increased without additional submarine work. Overall capacity will be boosted to 5.12 Tbps using the new 40 Gbps technology which supports ultra-high speed broadband networks.
The main aim of the project is to provide widespread access to the internet in the more than twenty African countries where Orange operates and further improve the quality of service provided by the network in all of its subsidiaries.