i3 Africa calls for BRICS submarine cable cash

i3 Africa, a company which has business links with the i3-Group, has called for investment from telecoms companies in a 34,000km submarine cable project to link the BRICS countries.The BRICS Cable project aims to link Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil to the US via a submarine cable.

i3 Africa, a company which has business links with the i3-Group, has called for investment from telecoms companies in a 34,000km submarine cable project to link the BRICS countries.

The BRICS Cable project aims to link Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil to the US via a submarine cable. i3 Africa expects the project to cost between $1bn and $1.6bn (£600m and £1bn) according to analysis performed on behalf of the company.

The idea behind the BRICS Cable project is to link the countries without having to route traffic through multiple hubs, i3 Africa chairman Andrew Mthembu told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. A call from China to Brazil may have to be routed through the US in two hops, or four or five different hops via Suez, said Mthembu.

"We're trying to obviate the need to be passing over a number of systems to get to your destination," Mthembu said.

At present, the global submarine cable network routes traffic through a series of cables linking disparate countries. The BRICS Cable is designed to allow BRICS countries to be able to communicate with fewer intermediaries, said Mthembu.

One of the drivers for the project is cybersecurity. Despite encryption, traffic can be intercepted as it passes through hubs in different countries, and from carrier to carrier. BRICS operators do not retain control of the traffic as it passes through Europe and the US, said Mthembu.

"If you have to travel through four or five different networks, you are that much more vulnerable to interception of your data," said Mthembu. "We all live in a world where cybersecurity is an issue."

The cable will cut the costs of traffic by about 40 percent by avoiding hops by different carriers, said Mthembu. One of the main aims of the project is to reduce the expense of transmitting communications traffic.

The cable route is planned to run from Vladivostock to Miami through Shantou, Singapore, Chennai, Mauritius, Cape Town, and Fortaleza.

If you have to travel through four or five different networks, you are that much more vulnerable to interception of your data.

– Andrew Mthembu, i3 Africa

The i3-Group licenses technology from the now-defunct i3 Group (no hyphen). i3 Group went into administration following a Serious Fraud Office investigation into Total Asset Finance, the funding company for i3 Group firm H2O Networks.

i3 Africa chair Andrew Mthembu told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that i3 Africa licensed microtrenching and cabling technology from i3-Group, but had no other connections to i3-Group or i3 Group (no hyphen). i3 Africa was also considering rebranding, said Mthembu.

i3 Africa has a similar business model to H2O Networks and to i3 Group (no hyphen) firm Fibrecity, which involved pushing fibre to homes through sewers and existing water infrastructure. H2O Networks and Fibrecity projects were halted during the Serious Fraud Office investigation in 2011. Fibrecity assets were then acquired by CityFibre Holdings.