Introducing Equiano, a subsea cable from Portugal to South Africa
Michael D. Francois
Tech Lead Manager, Global Network Infrastructure Strategy, EMEA
Global Network Infrastructure Strategy, Africa
Today we are introducing Equiano, our new private subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe. Once complete, Equiano will start in western Europe and run along the West Coast of Africa, between Portugal and South Africa, with branching units along the way that can be used to extend connectivity to additional African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria. This new cable is fully funded by Google, making it our third private international cable after Dunant and Curie, and our 14th subsea cable investment globally.
Google’s private subsea cables all carry the names of historical luminaries, and Equiano is no different. Named for Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, the Equiano cable is state-of-the-art infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, with approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region.
Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fiber-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching. This greatly simplifies the allocation of cable capacity, giving us the flexibility to add and reallocate it in different locations as needed. And because Equiano is fully funded by Google, we’re able to expedite our construction timeline and optimize the number of negotiating parties. A contract to build the cable with Alcatel Submarine Networks was signed in Q4 2018, and the first phase of the project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021.
Between 2016 and 2018, Google invested US$47 billion in capex, which includes investment in improving our global infrastructure. Equiano will further enhance the world’s highest capacity and best connected international network. We’re excited to bring Equiano online, and look forward to working with licensed partners to bring Equiano’s capacity to even more countries across the African continent.