Undersea cable on the way to SA

The East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) is expected to land at Mtunzini, on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coastline, on Saturday.

Telkom said in a statement on Friday that it was the landing partner for EASSy in South Africa and hosted one of the nine undersea telecommunications cables that will connect various parts of sub-Saharan Africa to the rest of the world by 2011.

The other landing partners are Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Madagascar and Mozambique.

Shore landings had already occurred in Mozambique and Sudan, Telkom said.

Alphonzo Samuels, Telkom’s managing executive for wholesale services, said EASSy was one of the elements of Telkom’s cable investment strategy and a key step towards the process of establishing a Telkom fibre-ring capability around Africa.

“Together with other undersea cables and/or land-based fibre routes, EASSy creates redundant fibre access prospects into East Africa,” he said.

EASSy is a 10 000km undersea cable system currently being constructed along the East African coastline.

Interconnection with various other undersea international cable systems will enable traffic on EASSy to seamlessly connect to Europe, North and South America, the Middle East and Asia, thereby enhancing the east coast of Africa’s connectivity into the global telecommunications network.

“EASSy is routed from South Africa to Sudan, linking the coastal countries of East Africa.

“An extensive backhaul system linking landlocked countries to the coastal countries has been developed and is at various stages of completion,” Samuels said, adding that EASSy was scheduled to be ready for commercial service from August this year.

He noted that submarine cables held many benefits, such as superior transmission quality, considerably fewer delays than satellite, high transmission capacity, access to the global optical fibre network, lower unit costs (compared to satellite), no electromagnetic interference and higher resistance against adverse weather conditions.

“However, activities such as fishing and anchoring, ocean drilling, fish bites and earthquakes constitute some of the commonly known submarine cable hazards,” he said.

Various initiatives were nevertheless undertaken to protect submarine cables.

“These included conducting ocean-bed surveys to select the safest undersea routes; burying cable in sand where possible, especially at the shallow end; avoiding heavy shipping lanes when approaching landing points; selecting safe beaches, bearing in mind that later beach erosion could expose cables; designing the shortest land cable route for maximum security; and manufacturing cables to exceed the 25-year design life of the cable system.”—Sapa

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