WACS Consortium and Alcatel-Lucent sign contract to deploy new subsea network

APRIL 8, 2009 -- The project will link countries in Southern Africa, Western Africa, and Europe with high-capacity international bandwidth.

APRIL 8, 2009 -- The WACS Consortium and Alcatel-Lucent (search Lightwave for Alcatel-Lucent) have signed a turnkey contract valued at several hundred million U.S. dollars to deploy a new submarine cable network that will provide the first direct connection between Southern Africa and Europe. Named the West Africa Cable System (WACS), this 14,000 km-long submarine network system will bolster Internet and other communications capabilities to and from the African continent.

The 11 parties that form the consortium are Angola Telecom, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, MTN, Portugal Telecom, Sotelco, Tata Communications, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Telecom, and Vodacom.

WACS will open access to faster connectivity to support IP-based services such as video applications for e-education and health care. Meeting the needs for increased capacity along the cable route, it will further reduce the digital divide, enabling the landing countries to be served by a new system offering greater capacity and lowering the cost of broadband access. With commercial service expected in 2011, this new submarine cable system will also offer route diversity and bandwidth availability, and the first global submarine fiber connection to Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo, and the Republic of Congo.

Under the terms of the contract, Alcatel-Lucent will provide connectivity between South Africa and Portugal. With a minimum design capacity of 3.84 Tbps, WACS will connect South Africa to the U.K. with landings in Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, and Portugal.

"WACS has brought together a multitude of nations and some of the world's most influential telecommunications players in a joint effort to use state-of-the-art technology in linking more people more efficiently than ever before. WACS will enable these countries to improve communications and Internet services that are crucial for a social and economic development," says Kobus Stoeder, chairperson of the consortium's Management Committee. "Alcatel-Lucent combines field-proven experience, reliability and the customer focus we need for such an exciting new project."

"Access to advanced technologies is key in some areas of the world that do not yet benefit from the Internet opportunities," says Georges Krebs, chief operating officer of Alcatel-Lucent's submarine network activity. "By meeting the requirements of communications infrastructures in terms of flexibility and scalability, we help our customers to enhance their capacity and deliver a more seamless and reliable service so that end users can enjoy the best experience possible."

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