Google’s Next Subsea Project? Umoja

May 28th, 2024 by · Leave a Comment

There was a time when I didn’t quite believe Google or other hyperscalers were serious about building the next generation of subsea infrastructure in any form. But if you asked me whether they’d build a cable from Africa to Australia across the southern Indian ocean, I’d have known you were messing with me. And yet, that’s exactly what Google announced a few days ago.

Google’s new project is called Umoja, which is apparently the Swahili word for unity. It has a terrestrial component starting in Kenya and going inland to Uganda before heading to South Africa through Rwanda, the DRC, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. That part will be done in partnership with Liquid Intelligent Technologies, which has itself invested heavily in the region over many years.

But the Indian Ocean crossing will be the first of its kind. It would create the possibility of a southern loop around the globe from Africa to Australia to South America and back to Australia. One has to have a pretty long term vision to make the economics for that work, but it certainly does feel like it ought to happen someday.

That being said, details about the subsea piece of Umoja are pretty scarce so far, much like survey information about the sea floor down there. That’s a long way from anywhere to be putting cable in. It’s basically 8,000km of little-traveled, open ocean.  Most likely the actual specs and timing for Umoja are themselves still in flux.

Google opened a Google Cloud region in Johannesburg earlier this year, and has also been behind the Equiano cable system along Africa’s west coast.

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Categories: Undersea cables

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