Pirates halt fibre-optic network progress

Increase in nautical piracy forces cable network launch delay.
The cable network should help meet the bandwidth demands of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The cable network should help meet the bandwidth demands of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.


Seacom has announced an unexpected delay in the completion of its highly anticipated fibre-optic cable network, due a recent spike in pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden.

When completed, the cable network is expected to provide a considerable boost to bandwidth, and enable HDTV, IPTV and P2P networking capabilities across Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Asian subcontinent.

The service was initially set to launch on June 27, however the date has now been pushed back to July 23.

“Due to sensitivities around piracy issues, their impact on the project timeline was only fully established recently,” said Brian Herlihy, CEO, Seacom.

“Whilst I am truly disappointed by the delay, it was imperative that strong measures be put in place to guarantee the successful completion of the cable system and the safety of the ship and its crews,” he explained.

“This setback should however be seen against the Herculean efforts made by the team to see this project come to fruition over an incredibly tight schedule of only 18 months. We remain extremely excited and look forward to witnessing the huge difference that affordable, high quality and plentiful bandwidth will have throughout eastern and southern Africa.”

Seacom management also added that due to a recent acceleration of work and the help of contractor, Tyco Telecommunications, the service launch date may still be earlier than expected.

On dry land, the project has also been making progress, with the company naming E-Marine as the maintenance provider for the fibre-optic network.

Seacom, which is majority-owned by African investors, claims the cable is 17,000 kilometres in length and will have a capacity of 1.28 terabytes per second.

While Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is the only Middle East location currently included in the cable network, it is also expected to extend to the Arabian Gulf in the future.

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