SEACOM to double subsea capacity, in talks with Google

29 July 2019 | Laurence Doe

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SEACOM is planning to double its lit capacity on its subsea segment and is currently in talks to become involved in a number of African cable system projects being planned by Google and other cable operators.

Byron Clatterbuck (pictured), CEO at SEACOM, told Capacity that “the rapid growth from various cloud service providers, as well as bandwidth-hungry corporates” was the reason for its latest development push.

SEACOM’s subsea cable system capacity will leap from 1.5Tbps to 3Tbps in the fourth quarter of 2019 after the pan-African telecommunications service provider swaps the cable’s electronics to the latest technology, which will allow for faster data throughput.

“As part of building that internet superhighway, we have connected into more metros to keep more customers on the network,” said Clatterbuck. “In South Arica, we will extend the capabilities that we currently offer in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. That’s why we acquired MacroLan in Cape Town and then SAI in Durban.”

Google’s newest cable, Equiano, which is landing in the island of St Helena on the way from Africa to Europe, is an attractive development for SEACOM as it is upgrading the capacity on its recently-acquired FibreCo fibre assets to deliver more services and international capacity into the South African market.

With an RFS date of 2021, the Equiano cable will run along the entire west coast of Africa, with landing points in Cape Town, South Africa; Lagos, Nigeria; and Lisbon, Portugal.

Clatterbuck said that SEACOM is going to deliver “affordable, terabit level high-speed internet connectivity and cloud services to traditionally-underserved mid-tier cities and towns” along the new FibreCo routes.

The upgrade will allow SEACOM to move large amounts of data between already established data centres in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, helping South African businesses "to harness the power of cloud computing for their digital transformation," said Clatterbuck.

“What is important for us is driving up speed. It’s important that we balance the west and the east coasts to create a protected ring so that we create a superhighway that connects these parts,” he added.

Clatterbuck also said that the company had come “a long way” in its 10 years of operation, evolving from being identified as a massive construction project, in which more than $500 million was invested in the sub-sea infrastructure as part of the African network.

“Now we have become a data network service provider,” he added. “We are the largest Internet provider in Africa; we connect all the major cloud service providers and things have really changed. Given, SEACOM is upgrading its subsea cable systems’ lit capacity from 1.5 terabytes today to three terabytes. The upgrade will be completed this year.”