Euro-Africa submarine cable link goes live

AN EAGERLY-AWAITED submarine cable linking West Africa to Europe has gone live, paving the way for cheaper and more reliable Internet access in one of the world's fastest-growing telecoms markets, its operators said on Friday.

AN EAGERLY-AWAITED submarine cable linking West Africa to Europe has gone live, paving the way for cheaper and more reliable Internet access in one of the world's fastest-growing telecoms markets, its operators said on Friday.

The 7000km fibre optic Main One Cable runs from Portugal to Nigeria and Ghana, and also branches out to Morocco, the Canary Islands, Senegal and Ivory Coast. The Main One Cable Company says it delivers more than 10 times the broadband capacity of the South Atlantic Terminal (SAT-3), Nigeria's sole existing undersea cable, and 20 times the entire satellite capacity of sub-Saharan Africa.

"The ramifications of Main One's cable will be felt in all sectors - from education to health and entertainment, helping drive economic growth and creating jobs all over Africa," the company said in a statement.

An expanding network and falling prices are expected to fuel explosive growth in mobile broadband in Africa over the next few years, particularly Nigeria, which has overtaken South Africa to become the continent's largest mobile telecoms market.

Internet connectivity in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of 140million people with 5percent broadband penetration levels, is expensive and unreliable and many business are forced to rely on satellite communications.

Enhanced capacity will bring more competition among big operators such as MTN and India's Bharti, which last month completed a R70billion acquisition of the African operations of Kuwait's Zain.

Main One's cable will also put Nigeria at par with the rest of the world in terms of Internet and broadband services. The cable, which has a capacity of 1,92 terabits, has a speed which can accommodate 1million MP3 downloads and 100million voice calls per second. - Reuters

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