South Africans will soon be able to connect to the outside world via the Seacom undersea cable, which is proceeding according to plan – already cable has been installed on the beds of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
So far, cable has been laid from the edge of the South African waters to Mozambique and cable laying is also proceeding in the Red Sea from Egypt towards the coast of Yemen.
A third ship is currently being loaded with the remainder of Seacom's deepwater cable which will be deployed from India towards Africa, where the three cable segments will be joined.
In parallel to the marine installation, Seacom has made significant strides in land-based construction. The high-performance optical transmission equipment, which connects customers to inland terrestrial networks, has been installed in the Maputo, Mumbai and Djibouti cable landing stations.
Construction of the cable station in Kenya will be complete in early February followed shortly by the Tanzanian and South African stations. Equipment installation in these locations, and in Egypt, will be complete in April.
At each site, Seacom has taken precautions to assure the construction activity is consistent with environmental policy and regulations. As an example, in South Africa, Seacom recently transferred protected plant species from the cable station site to the Umlalazi National Park with the help of the KwaZulu Natal Wildlife rangers.
The company is preparing to provide services to customers by June and has recruited more than 10 experienced local telecommunications professionals from India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania to operate and maintain the cable stations. Many of these personnel have already been trained at the Seacom Network Operations Centre in India and are now participating in the testing of the system as it is being installed.
A complementary set of personnel is being recruited and will start training in March. These teams will also work with the landing partners' operators in Egypt and Djibouti.
Brian Herlihy, president of Seacom, comments: "We are delighted to have actual cable in the water and the count-down to June has begun.
"We have made tremendous progress since our groundbreaking in Mozambique last November and we can now sense a real level of excitement for Seacom's arrival. Through my travels, I continuously meet people who speak about the many ways they intend to exploit the world of broadband which is about to reach Africa.
"I am also most pleased with our recruitment successes and the fact that Seacom was able to source the necessary skills to operate the cable from African talent. We are inundated with highly qualified candidates and hiring almost all of our employees from African labour pools."