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West African Cable System (WACS) - the largest capacity submarine fibre-optic telecommunications (telecoms) cable to touch African shores - reached the beach at Yzerfontein, Western Cape.
The 140m-long Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks cable laying ship floated the fibre-optic cable for some 1.8 km before it reached the shore at around 09:30 am.It was expected that the $650 million cable, which would almost double international connectivity capacity in South Africa, would be fully completed and operational by the first quarter of 2012.
Although Telkom South Africa was the landing party for the Wacs cable in South Africa, the cable would be operated on an open-access policy with other local shareholders in the cable, which included Broadband Infraco, MTN, Neotel, and Vodacom.Telkom would own, operate and maintain the cable landing station, but the other telecoms providers would have access to the facility, and be able to ‘co-locate’ their services within the station.
Neotel chief technology officer Dr Angus Hay explained to Engineering News Online that according to contractual arrangements the Wacs cable was the first truly open-access cable in Africa.
This allowed all stakeholding operators to land capacity in terms of the agreement, as well as having an open-access policy in terms of cross connections (direct wavelength access), ability to co-locate at the cable landing station, as well as ability to backhaul services from the cable landing station to Cape Town.
The back haul terrestrial links from the landing station to Cape Town were not yet in place, and the five operators would likely share infrastructure, rather than dig individual trenches for the terrestrial cable.
The parties would share infrastructure costs, however they would operate their portion of the cable independently. It was up to each individual operator to generate returns from its portion of the capacity procured.
The specific shareholding in the Wacs Joint Venture was subject to nondisclosure agreements, however MTN, which lands the cable at a number of other African countries, has stated that its investment in the cable system is about $90-million – making it the largest single investor.
Although Neotel would not give details of its investment, Hay stated that return on investment was expected within five to ten years.Telkom executive for global capacity Johan Meyer said that diversity of cables was vital, so that operators were not dependent on one international gateway for communications.Construction of cable stations in all the countries where the cable lands was under way, and installation, commissioning and testing of all the equipment would begin soon.
Source: The Citzen