New undersea cable to triple internet speeds in South Africa

Google’s new subsea Equiano cable is set to link Africa and Europe and will assist in decreasing internet costs while significantly increasing speeds.

According to Google, the undersea cable will have the potential to triple internet speeds on the continent.

During an online briefing in October, Google Africa’s managing director, Nitin Gajria, shared that the company is making steady progress in constructing the cable, with branches currently operating in Nigeria, Namibia, St Helena, and South Africa.

Equiano will root itself in western Europe and will stretch along the West Coast of Africa, between Portugal and SA. The undersea cable will also have branching units that will extend connectivity to other African countries along the way.

According to Gajria, the cable will provide approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve the country. He emphasised that this should lead to a 21% drop in internet costs whilst almost tripling speeds.

Equiano will be the first subsea cable to function using optical switching at the fibre-pair level. All previous and current cables run on traditional 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 Google fully funds Equiano, we’re able to expedite our construction timeline and optimize the number of negotiating parties,” says Gajria.

In the same brief, Google also discussed its plan to invest R15 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation. According to Google, the funds will be used to:

  • Provide fast and affordable internet options to more Africans
  • Build useful digital products
  • Support entrepreneurs and small businesses
  • Help non-profits to improve lives across the continent

“We’ve made huge strides together over the past decade — but there’s more work to do to make the internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African,” said Google chief executive Sundar Pichai.

Pichai shared his excitement and reaffirmed Google’s commitment to investing the R15 billion over five years to support the digital transformation of South Africa and other African countries. This new-age transformation will support the birth of a range of initiatives, including improved connectivity and easier access to affordable internet solutions.