As the demand for data continues around mobile network operators (MNOs), about $5.5 billion worth of submarine cables are underway in West Africa and other regions of the world between 2012 and 2013.
In West Africa, the West African Cable System (WACS) and the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) network will begin service this year, spanning the entire West African coast and extending to Europe.
WACS brought to Nigeria by MTN Nigeria cost about $650 million and spans the entire West African coast and terminating in the United Kingdom.
WACS is a 14, 000 kilometres fibre optic submarine cable with a capacity of 5.12 terabits per second (tbps), which berthed in the country last year.
The WACS consortium include MTN, Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable and Wireless Worldwide, Congo Telecom, Society Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT), PT Communicators; Togo Telecom, Tata Communications, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA Limited, and Vodacom Group Limited.
The Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Wale Goodluck, said "the WACS cable is here. It landed something in the middle of last year. The capacity is bigger than any submarine cable that has landed in Nigeria and we expect that it would provide greater bandwidth, greater redundancy and far more latency for data services."
The ACE cable, a 17,000 km-long fibre optic cable will be operational in the first half of 2012. It will connect 23 countries, either directly for coastal countries or indirectly through terrestrial links for landlocked countries.
ACE system will deploy wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology with an overall potential capacity of 5.12 Tbit/s, The system will support the 40 Gbit/s technology from its launch.
According to new data from TeleGeography's Global Bandwidth Research Service, two Middle Eastern systems, Gulf Bridge International and Tata's TGN-Gulf cable went live in first quarter 2012.
Other major upcoming projects include a pair of sizable intra-Asian cables: the Asia Submarine-cable Express, which is to be deployed in third quarter 2012 and the Southeast Asia Japan Cable, which is scheduled for third quarter 2013.
In 2010 and 2011, 19 systems worth an aggregate $3.7 billion were launched, and the pace of growth will only pick up in the next few years.
The America Movil-1 cable in Latin America will be deployed in Q4 2012. Operators are deploying new systems for a variety of reasons, including physical route diversity, latency reduction, strategic advantage, and the lure of relatively high price margins on some routes.
Additional submarine cables have been proposed for construction beyond 2013, including several trans-Arctic systems and four cables between South America and Africa.