New undersea cable to link Eastern Cape to the world

Proposed line will link ELIDZ with Mauritius and India say stakeholders


A 9,000 km undersea telecommunications cable will link East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) to Mauritius and ultimately India.
It has the potential to make the city SA’s best Asia-centric communications hub, vaulting it into the perfect position to be SA’s call centre capital, and the gateway to communication with India, China and the Far East, into Africa, and immediate connection with the international growing undersea cable network.
IOX Cable Ltd, the Mauritius-based information and communications technology giant owns the cable.
The target completion date for the first phase is the first half of 2020. Spin-off businesses, and growth of existing companies, could eventually result in tens of thousands of job opportunities in the ELIDZ, the city and the surrounds.
IOX selected East London as the landing point for the 9,000 km undersea cable, due mainly to ELIDZ’s delivery track record, its position equidistant between Cape Town and Durban, and its proximity to Gauteng.
One of the newest high capacity fibre backbones in the country currently links Johannesburg and Cape Town to East London via Bloemfontein.
Adding to this, once the N2 fibre routes currently under development are operational, East London will be the best coastal communication hub in the country with multiple redundant routes and hosting the latest infrastructure.
While ELIDZ is the ideal site, the zone is not yet celebrating the contract to host the landing area and the receiving station site.
\The department of environmental affairs (DEA) is reviewing the environmental work done by consultants ERM, which was commissioned by IOX for the scoping report.
The extensive areas of study, which are open to public scrutiny, include the cable’s impact on fisheries, marine heritage, and marine, coastal and terrestrial ecology.
Also included are future environmental management and reporting methods. Other aspects dealt with were dust and noise, waste generations, air quality, traffic, hazardous substances, heritage, archaeology, visual impact and worker and public safety
Stephen Richter, of Mariswe, the majority black-owned, multi-disciplinary consulting engineering practice, employed by IOX, said the project was on track, but that IOX was finalising the full costs of the cable and its financial impact.
“From an engineering perspective East London has a rough and turbulent coastline, so the cable’s landing area requires innovative thinking and a creative design approach.
“The final design solution has thus required a hybrid design with the use of horizontal directional drilling combined with trenching in part to both protect the environment in critical zones, protect the cable through the rough surf zones as well as to achieve the most cost-effective installation . . . ”
In 2017 Arunachalam Kandasamy, IOX founder, contracted Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) to lay the telecommunications cable linking SA and India, via Mauritius and Rodrigues Islands. In a press release at the time of signing, he said IOX could leverage ASN’s state-of-the-art technologies to “support and drive broadband infrastructure development based on new socio-economic models, centred around the new digital economy”.
The cable will provide customers and partners with a new open access alternative path for connecting Africa, Asia and onwards to Europe and the US.
It will provide additional telecommunications capacity to SA users. It will also enable cross-connect opportunities within SA networks and the southern Africa region. It will also enhance high-speed connectivity to the global network.
IOX has already positioned Mauritius as a technology hub, and the Africa-India cable will likely be the fourth submarine cable landing on the island.
It is an open access cable system to offer opportunities for all licensed operators to become providers of high bandwidths on cutting-edge technologies.
ASN’s first phase was an underwater marine survey for the cable system, across the full 9,000 km. A specially designed vessel assessed the seabed conditions, engineering of the route, cable design, and cable installation programme. The depth of the cable ensured that it was all but impossible to hinder any shipping, or be snagged.
The cable, once working, will meet users’ demands for speedier connectivity, essential for improved connectivity, and growth and development in areas such as cloud computing and video streaming.
And create a new outlet for East London’s business potential and job creation...

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