South Atlantic Cable System Construction Underway

April 24th, 2017 by · Leave a Comment

It's been in the works for half a decade or more now, but the South Atlantic Cable System is apparently finally off the drawing board and under construction.  Earlier this month, NEC announced that the contract to build SACS had come into force, and late last week, Angola Cables announced that the marine survey is now complete and the loading of the pre-laid shore end on the Angolan side is underway.  
SACS will cross the Atlantic in the same way that dozens before it have, except that the path will be between two different continents - Africa and South America.  It will hook up Fortaleza on the Brazilian coastline with Luanda in Angola.  At Fortaleza, SACS will interconnect with, among others, the new Monet system being built up to North America.  On the other end, it will interconnect with WACS, which stretches along the west coast of Africa hooking up a dozen markets.

If all goes as planned, SACS will have an initial design capacity of 40Tbps, made up of 100x100Gbps links on four fiber pairs stretching 6200km.  The price tag will be some $160M according to NEC, which seems lower than I would have expected.

I have had my doubts that this cable system would overcome its funding hurdles and actually get built, and until it's ready for service in mid-2018 they probably won't go away entirely.  After all, while there are plenty of engineering reasons why one would want such a cable making the economic case has always been rather harder.  Traffic levels in South American and Africa have been rising rapidly of course, but the raw numbers have a long, long way to go to compete with the bits being transferred between the developed nations north of the equator.

Next maybe we can turn our attention to the neglected South Pacific route between Australia/New Zealand and Chile?  Just kidding, mostly...

Categories: Undersea cables

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