A new high capacity cable linking South Africa and Europe is set to double the country's current broadband capacity, said Telkom.

The much anticipated West Africa Cable System (WACS) linking Southern Africa and Europe arrived at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape on Tuesday.

“The 14000km long fibre optic submarine cable system will effectively raise South Africa's current broadband capacity by over 500 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Spanning the west coast of Africa and terminating in the United Kingdom, WACS will enable seamless connectivity into the rest of Europe and America,” said Telkom.

The four fibre pair system has been under construction since 2009. The total project cost will not exceed $650 million.

The cable is an initiative by the WACS Consortium, whose South African members consist of Broadband Infraco, MTN, Telkom SA Ltd, Neotel and Vodacom Group Ltd. The cable also boasts 15 established terminal stations along route and will function to reduce the cost to connect the west coast of Africa into the high-speed global telecommunications network for years to come.

It is designed to support present and future Internet, e-commerce, data, video and voice services while also making use of dense wavelengths division multiplexing (DWDM) technology, which enables bidirectional communications over one strand of fiber, as well as the multiplication of capacity.

“Its design of 4 fibre pair and 128 wavelength technology make WACS the largest cable system to ever land in Sub Sahara Africa. WACS will meet the demand for capacity well into the 1st quarter of the 21st century,” Dr Angus Hay of Neotel, Co-Chair of the WACS Management Committee said.

Managing Executive: Telkom Wholesale Services Casper Chihaka said explained that various reasons had led to the choice of Yzerfontein as landing point for WACS and allocating the responsibility to land the cable in South Africa to Telkom.

“All submarine cables that enter South Africa is located at either Melkbosstrand or Mtunzini, thus effectively two international fibre gateways. Events such as earthquakes or even a large ship dragging its anchor has seen several cables being cut. South Africa needs a third international fibre gateway to reduce the risk of complete isolation from the rest of the world,” said Chihaka.

In addition to complementing existing high-bandwidth cable systems in the region, as well as supply first time fibre connectivity to several West African countries, WACS will provide much needed diversity for large volume broadband traffic from South Africa to Europe.