The much awaited ultra high-capacity West Africa Cable Systems (WACS) undersea cable was launched in South Africa last Friday. The official launch event was staged in Cape Town and the system was switched on at exactly 12h00.
Telecom Namibia spokesman Oiva Angula explained that “WACS is just band-width,” clarifying the importance of the highest capacity submarine cable system ever to land in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We need to do the necessary preparations and ensure that the infrastructure here is in good shape,” before Namibians can benefit from this technological marvel. “We are busy testing the links to make sure we can deliver the capacity we can get from WACS. We will launch as soon as we are done,” he said. No specific date was provided.
According to Angula, the total project cost is about US$750 million. Namibia and Botswana have co-invested US$75 million and own 10% of the WACS project.
It links 14 countries with a total of fifteen landing points including Namibia, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, Portugal, and the UK.
The WACS Consortium members are Telecom Namibia / BTC, Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Cabo Verde Telecom, Congo Telecom, MTN Group, Portugal Telecom, SCPT (DRC), Togo Telecom, Tata Communications / Neotel, Telkom SA, Vodacom Group and Vodafone Spain.
The 17 200 km submarine cable system is set to unleash a new wave of broadband capacity on the African continent. The system is expected to help lower the cost of broadband access.
According to Dr Angus Hay, Co-Chair of the WACS management committee, “Latency tests on the WACS system carried out earlier this year from Yzerfontein in South Africa to Highbridge in the UK measured a round trip delay (RTD) of 138.5 milliseconds, the lowest achieved so far over such a transoceanic distance.”
WACS is the first submarine cable system ever to make use of Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) to provide advanced in-system restoration of wavelengths, increasing network resilience.