The 2Africa subsea cable, an undersea fiber optic network backed by a consortium, including China Mobile, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc (Saudi Telecom Company), Telecom Egypt, Vodafone, and WIOCC, today announced the addition of a new segment, known as the 2Africa PEARLS branch, extending the subsea cable to India, Pakistan, and countries around the Persian Gulf. Specifically, the 2Africa PEARLS extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa undersea cable system to 28k+ miles (45k+ kilometers).
Prior to today’s announcement, the 2Africa subsea cable was planned to be 23k miles (37k kilometers), implying that the PEARLS branch, as well as other recently announced branches, span an incremental ~5k miles (~8k kilometers). Therefore, 2Africa’s recent extensions represent a 22% increase in the entire subsea cable’s length. Furthermore, including the PEARLS branch, the 2Africa subsea cable becomes the longest subsea cable system ever deployed.
2Africa Subsea Cable – PEARLS Branch
By extending 2Africa’s network, via PEARLS, to new cable landing stations in further countries, the system will ultimately interconnect 33 countries across the three continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Overall, the 2Africa PEARLS branch adds new cable landing stations in Oman (Barka), the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Kalba), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait City), Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Mumbai), and Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar). In total, the 2Africa subsea cable will now connect to 46 cable landing stations.
Fiber Pairs and Capacity
2Africa is designed as a 16-fiber pair subsea cable, leveraging space division multiplexing (SDM) technology. Additionally, through these fiber pairs, 2Africa has a design capacity of 180 terabits per second. In turn, 2Africa will provide nearly 3x the total network capacity of all undersea cables presently serving Africa.
Connectivity to the 2Africa undersea cable and its PEARLS extension will be available through several carrier-neutral data centers and open-access cable landing stations globally. For example, in Italy, Equinix will connect the 2Africa subsea cable into its new data center in Genoa, named GN1.
Presently, 2Africa PEARLS plans to provide international connectivity to 3 billion people, representing 36% of the global population. Indeed, this is an increase in connectivity for 1.8 billion people, from the cable’s original plan of connecting 1.2 billion.
Supplier and Timing
Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will deploy the first segments of the 2Africa undersea cable system in 2022. Ultimately, the subsea cable will be ready for service (RFS) in 2023 or 2024.
Terrestrial Fiber Connectivity
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Facebook and Liquid Intelligent Technologies are building a long-haul and metro terrestrial fiber network that will connect the Central part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to its Eastern border with Rwanda. In turn, Facebook and Liquid’s terrestrial fiber network will extend the reach of the 2Africa undersea cable. Particularly, 2Africa will connect to a cable landing station in the city of Muanda, DRC, along Africa’s West coast.
Egypt’s terrestrial crossing is one of 2Africa’s important segments, interconnecting cable landing stations on the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea. Specifically, these cable landing stations are connected through two diverse terrestrial fiber routes. Finally, a third diverse subsea link will complement this segment through the Red Sea.