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MTN to build world’s largest undersea cable

JOHANNESBURG – MTN, the Pan-African mobile network operator, has disclosed plans to build what the company said would be the world’s largest submarine cable.

Set to connect the Middle East with India, it will serve over 3 billion people when it goes live, at a time that was undisclosed.

The current longest undersea cable is South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 3 (SEA-ME-WE 3), which stretches 39 000 kilometres.

Ricardo Varzielas Financial Officer of MTN GlobalConnect, revealed the plans at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum (UBBF) 2021.

He said as many landlocked countries in Africa do not have access to submarine cables, MTN would continue to build terrestrial cables to provide wider connectivity to the continent.

“We are going to grab the existing fibre networks. We are going to put them in the independent FiberCo,” Varzielas said.

“And then we are going to patch all these networks together so that we can cross the continent and provide low latency and connectivity to landlocked countries.”

Varzilas said MTN was already in discussions and was looking to partner them and financing institutions to ensure the right partnership models, whether public private partnerships, as much as it can use already existing fibre.

MTN has built Africa’s largest pan-African fiber optic network. The Group is currently the leading telecom operator in Africa and has around 600 million people under its network coverage.

It has 277 million clients, around 117 million of which are active data users and approximately 49 million are mobile money users.

According to MTN, in Africa, a lot of dark fibers are not fully utilised, hence the company aims to make full use of them and bring them into a seamless network.

“We want to make sure that once we build and connect all of these different fiber networks that we also operate the zero touch network, where we can move the activation of links from weeks to hours,” Varzielas noted.

He said MTN had several data centre facilities spread across the network and aimed to improve the quality of service and latency.

This is becoming important as the firm starts rolling out 5G on the continent.

“And the edge computing becomes a hot topic. We need to make sure our networks are ready to deliver on the customer experience that 5G promises,” Varzielas said.

– CAJ News

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