It has been a busy year in the world of African undersea cables as the timeline below of cable maps over the last year will attest. A lot has happened or more accurately plans and announcements for a lot have happened.

2008-2009 timeline

In this update, I have corrected a lot of information about the MainOne cable. Here are the key changes:

  • The capacity of the MainOne cable will be 1.92 terabits, making it the second-largest planned cable in the region next to the WACS initiative, who in typical telco fashion have released no information about their plans after the initial press release
  • The number of landing points is flexible. I note that Libreville, Bonny, and Abidjan are not on their current map. My impression is that the business model for the cable is focused on Ghana and Nigeria with other countries being additional bonuses. Given the uncertainty of regulatory regimes and business climates this makes sense.

MainOne were able to share other information about the cable as well.

  • Phase One of the cable development will link Accra and Lagos to their landing point in Portugal where they have negotiated onward connectivity with Tata Communications. They are offering full circuits from Accra or Lagos to Telehouse in London.
  • Phase One is scheduled to be completed by Q2 2010.
  • Their focus is on wholesale bandwidth. Minimum purchase is an STM-1 (155 mbps) via an IRU.

It is a pleasure to see such straightforward information being provided on request. Both Seacom and MainOne are a step ahead of other cable initiatives in this region in being forthcoming about their progress. They were even able to communicate some basic pricing information.  All prices are in US dollars.

MainOne O&M – 15yrs* Total Cost Annual Cost per STM1 Monthly Cost per STM1
STM-1 4,800,000 3,320,336 8,120,336 541,356 45,113
STM-4 13,200,000 9,130,924 22,330,924 372,182 31,015

* Operation and Maintenance. Note that IRUs are being sold on a 15 year basis for MainOne in contrast to the 20 year period by Seacom.

Posted by Steve Song

@stevesong local telco policy activist. social entrepreneur. founder of @villagetelco #africa #telecoms #opensource #privacy #wireless #spectrum #data