Google announces Equiano, a private subsea cable from Europe to Africa

Running along the West Coast of Africa, Equiano should offer about 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region, Google says.

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Google on Friday announced the construction of its third privately-funded international subsea cable. Called Equiano, the cable will start in Portugal and run along the West Coast of Africa to South Africa.  

Once the cable is up and running, it should offer about 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region, according to Google. The cable is based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology, which cost-effectively increases cable capacity with additional fiber pairs and power-optimized repeater designs.Also, Google says Equiano will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fiber-pair level, making it easier to add and reallocate capacity in different locations. 

Google is building the cable with Alcatel Submarine Networks, and the first phase of the project, connecting Portugal to South Africa, should be completed in 2021. After that, Google will add branches to extend connectivity to other African countries. The first branch is expected to land in Nigeria. 

The cable is named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer who helped lead the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s. 

Google's other two privatey-funded subsea cables are also named after historical luminaries: The Curie connects Chile to Los Angeles, and the Dunant will connect the US to the French Atlantic coast.

All told, Google has now announced investments in 14 subsea cables around the globe.