Fully funded by Google, Equiano would start in Western Europe and run along the West Coast of Africa with branching units along the way that could be put to use to extend connectivity to additional African countries and the first phase of the project is expected to be complete in 2021.
“‘Equiano’ would be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fiber-pair level, which would greatly simplify the allocation of cable capacity, giving us the flexibility to add and reallocate it in different locations as needed,” Google wrote in a blogpost on Friday.
Named for Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, the Equiano cable is based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, with approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region.
The contract to build the cable with Alcatel Submarine Networks was signed in Q4 2018.
According to the post, between 2016 and 2018, Google invested $47 billion in capex and Equiano is further expected to enhance the world’s highest capacity and best-connected international network.
“We’re excited to bring Equiano online and look forward to working with licensed partners to bring Equiano’s capacity to even more countries across the African continent,” the post added.
Unlike some of its competitors, Google does not currently operate any data centers on the African continent and has yet to share any plans to do so. This makes fast connections to Europe even more of a necessity, though it’s also possible that Google is putting this new cable in place to prepare for a data center launch in South Africa, TechCrunch reported.