23 August 2019
Google has unveiled plans for its new private subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe and is looking for partners to help link it up with various countries along the route.
Equiano will start in western Europe and run along the west coast of Africa, between Portugal and South Africa.
It will also incorporate branching units along the way, which can be used to extend connectivity to a number of African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria.
Fully funded by Google, it is the internet giant’s third private international cable after Dunant, which connects the US to France – and Curie, which connects Los Angeles, California with Valparaiso, Chile.
It is also the company’s 14th subsea cable investment globally.
Equiano is named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy.
Its infrastructure is based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, which Google said means approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve the region.
Furthermore, Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching.
Google said it greatly simplifies the allocation of cable capacity, giving it the flexibility to add and reallocate it in different locations as and when it is required.
Phase one of the project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021.
A contract to build it with Alcatel Submarine Networks was signed late last year.