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Exclusive: Altice Portugal inks landing party agreement for Medusa subsea cable in Lisbon

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Medusa Submarine Cable System, the Mediterranean subsea cable operator, and MEO (Altice Portugal) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the landing of the Medusa cable in Carcavelos, in the municipality of Cascais, in the Lisbon district.

"The Portuguese coast has always been strategic to generate connections, as it is the gateway to the Atlantic and West Africa," said Norman Albi, managing director and CEO of AFR-IX telecom, the company sponsoring Medusa.

"It was decisive for Medusa that the start of its route was Portuguese and Carcavelos offers optimal conditions for this."

The agreement was signed during the Subsea World 2022 in Marseille by Albi, managing director joined by Alexander Freese, COO of Altice Portugal.

Under the terms of the agreement, Altice Portugal (MEO) will provide landing services for the cable system, which includes ducts from the beach to the cable landing station (CLS), space and power at the CLS, operation and maintenance services, as well as connectivity between the CLS and other international connection points, namely data centres, other subsea cable stations and teleports.

"Altice Portugal, as the leader of the communications sector in Portugal, is proud to help create a gateway to Europe of such relevant assets in the communications sector as Medusa, also reinforcing its commitment to the global economy," added Freese.

The Carcavelos landing station will serve as the western point of the 8,700+km Medusa cable system, connecting 9 countries in Africa and Europe through its landing points in Portugal, Morocco, Spain, France, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Egypt and Cyprus.

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Speaking to Capacity during the event, Albi explained that the collaboration was a continuation of long-standing working partnership between the two companies.

"As AFR-IX we have a long story of collaboration with MEO Altice Portugal for many years and that will only continue," he said.

"So, when we were looking for a landing location in Lisbon, we selected Carcavelos for many several but the main one was because of its close to data centres and has a lot of longstanding infrastructure managed by MEO Altice for many years, backed by solid know-how to manage a subsea cable."

Freese echoed these sentiments, saying: "As Norman said, we've had this partnership for years, we know each other, we trust each other and we're very happy to have been chosen as partners again for this ambitious project."

With an investment value of €326 million, the Medusa cable, which will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), will boast segments of up to 24 fibre pairs with a total design capacity of 20Tbs per fibre pair.

The benefits of landing in Lisbon are clear to Albi and the AFR-IX team, "to have Lisbon, is a gateway to the Mediterranean. All the cables that land there, either go North but also with the Medusa creates the possibility to interconnect Lisbon with Marseille, Africa etc or even to the other side of the Med through the various landing points of the system. With MEO Altice, who is the main landing operator in Lisbon, the opportunities are all there."

"We also have some customers on the West African coast they want to reach Europe," adds Freese. "And now we have a diverse route adding to the Lisbon gateway so they can reach places like London, Paris and Marseille or even to Barcelona, so its definitely a benefit to both of us."

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The collaboration will enable the first segment of the cable linking the cities of Cascais-Lisbon, through the Carcavelos landing station, Barcelona and Marseille to be delivered, with the cable due to reach Carcavelos in Q2 of 2024.

With permitting already underway and steps being taken to finalise this in Carcavelos, Albi says the next step is the project survey which he expects "before the end of this year" starting in Carcavelos towards the Med.

With much talk during the conference of Portugal as one of the next big subsea cable hubs, Capacity asked Freese if sees it going that way as well, he said: "we're certainly seeing a lot of activity and new cables coming in there. Its growing a lot", so watch this space.

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