The financial mechanisms for a new 'super-cable' — likely to be the world's longest undersea cable — are almost in place.
The African West Coast Cable project — costing US$510 million — is headed up by South Africa's Broadband Infraco, and will run from South Africa to the United Kingdom, with branching connections to at least ten countries along Africa's west coast.
The launch is scheduled for sometime in the first half of 2010. The capacity of the cable will be brought on in stages, as the demand for broadband Internet infrastructure increases. At the time of launch, around 320 gigabytes a second will be available, growing to 3,840 gigabytes a second at peak performance.
This is much larger than the existing SAT-3/West Coast Submarine Cable System which currently connects South Africa to Europe at 120 gigabytes per second.
A key feature of the project is that the cable will be set-up on an open-access basis, allowing for a number of shareholders on the same system. "The idea is to foster an environment where all participants operate as though they had built and own the cable."
Dave Smith, Infraco CEO, says such a basis "is necessary to fundamentally alter the way infrastructure is operated and priced in Africa".