Vodafone Connects UK to 2Africa – World’s Largest Subsea Fibre Cable

The long-running 2Africa project, which is in the process of building a 45,000km long subsea (submarine) fibre optic cable between the United Kingdom and most of coastal Africa, has confirmed that telecoms giant Vodafone has just helped to land the new cable in England at a site in Bude (Cornwall).

The new network expects to deliver more than the total combined data capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, which should help to support faster broadband speeds, boosting mobile network capacity and better international internet connectivity. Reliability improvements to local networks across all of the 33 linked countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe are another bonus (46 landing sites).

NOTE: The 2Africa consortium is made up of eight international partners: Bayobab; Center3; China Mobile International; Meta; Orange; Telecom Egypt; Vodafone Group; and WIOCC. Alcatel Submarine Networks is responsible for the manufacture and installation of the 2Africa cable.

The cable itself has a design capacity is up to 180Tbps (Terabits per second) on key parts of the system and Vodafone, as the lead partner for the UK landing, will be responsible for managing the physical cable coming ashore, burial on the beach and installation into a new, purpose-built beach manhole where 2Africa will connect to terrestrial cable routing back to the existing Vodafone Cable Landing Station.

In addition, Vodafone will provide 2Africa with onward connectivity via two diverse terrestrial infrastructure and fibre routes linking to the London area. The operator is already said to be carrying traffic on part of its 2Africa cable system.

Vodafone owns dual fibre cables on the route that have a lifespan of 25 years, both of which have been named after their Group Head of Subsea Partnerships, Rick Perry. The Vodafone system is referred to as SHARP (the System Honouring the Achievements of Rick Perry) and Rick has been involved with it since the very beginning.

Rick Perry, Vodafone Group Head of Subsea Partnerships, said:

“2Africa is the world’s most ambitious cable system and will help to narrow the digital divide in Africa. It’s great that the SHARP system is now online and serving customers and that it has landed in the UK.”

As a side note, the new cable also has greater protection because it benefits from a 50% increase in burial depth (i.e. up to 3 metres below the surface), which means it’s a lot less likely to be ripped up by the anchors of big ships or large trawlers (and their dragged nets). The system is also one of the first of its size to make use of a new aluminium conductor for submarine cable systems – this allows for a much lower cable voltage drop and thus a higher number of fibre pairs per cable.

Vodafone has been the partner for 11 landings of the 2Africa cable to date.

Recent Posts