Commercial service has been launched on the USD640m, 28,000km SAT-3/WASC/SAFE submarine cable, the first fibre link for Europe-Africa-Asia, It will be operated by its consortium of 36 nations for the next 25 years.
France Telecom's USD96m investment gives it a 15% share. It extends its network - which includes European and North American backbones and the SEA-ME-WE 3 Asia-Mediterranean-Europe submarine link (at 40,000km, the world's longest) - by providing high-bandwidth connections for its regional units, Reunion Island and group subsidiaries Côte d'Ivoire Telecom, Senegal's Sonatel and Mauritius Telecom. It also provides back-up for the Europe-Asia route as well as satellite links serving these countries.
The link results from the combination, in 1998, of two projects:
- SAT-3/WASC (South Africa Telecommunications - West African Submarine Cable); and
- SAFE (South Africa-Far East).
It has 16 landing points in 15 countries, from Portugal along Africa's west coast to Cape Town, then to India and Malaysia via Reunion Island and Mauritius. Construction took from December 1999 to December 2001.
Two fibre pairs give a capacity of 130Gbit/s for SAFE and 120Gbit/s for SAT-3/WASC. The contractors were Alcatel Submarine Networks for SAT-3/WASC and TyCom for SAFE. Cableship operators included France Telecom Marine, for 3,000km. Its subsidiary Chamarel Marine Services has been responsible for system maintenance since June 2001 for the 20,000km segment between the latitude of Dakar in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean (70% of the cable length).