Home Technology Google to build a powerful new undersea cable for South Africa

Google to build a powerful new undersea cable for South Africa

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Google has grand plans for their Stadia gaming platform that is supposed to herald a new era of gaming that will see people access and play their games on practically any device imaginable, with no need to worry about graphical powerhouse machines. The only requirement being a connection to the internet and the likely copious amounts of RAM that said browser will take to store all this info in memory.

It’s a grand ambition and one that could definitely usher in a change to the way we all play video games if It weren’t for one big problem – internet connectivity, bandwidth and latency. Not only do few people have access (though this is growing) to a fast enough internet connection that could make this sort of system work, but with most cloud services that these systems will use not existing in the country, it’s unlikely we will be able to get a decent enough latency to make playing these games useful, especially multiplayer games. Times are changing though and along with internet speeds increasing quite rapidly, it appears Google also has a plan to tackle the internet issues with South Africa directly, by building their own internet pipe between the country and Europe.

Google has revealed the plans in a new statement which says the company will lay a new cable that will use state-of-the-art infrastructure based on space-division multiplexing (SDM) technology that allows for the transmission of information along parallel channels. Google’s new cable will be called “Equiano,” named for Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a boy, which is fitting considering phase 2 of the project will see the cable branched off to that country.

(It) will be the first subsea cable to incorporate optical switching at the fibre-pair level, rather than the traditional approach of wavelength-level switching.

The new cable, which will be fully funded by Google, is expected to be operational in South Africa by 2021 and is said to have 20 times the network capacity that the latest undersea cable that links Europe to South Africa (assumedly referring to the WACS (West Africa Cable System), supported by MTN, that was completed in 2012). The cable should form a private connection to the rest of Google Cloud platform with the only assumption being that there will be some local data centres in which it connects to, which should significantly increase Google’s ability to serve the local market through its cloud services and the likes of Stadia.

Google isn’t the only company interested in laying new cables to South Africa as Facebook has also previously mentioned a desire to build an underwater data cable that would encircle Africa. That was just a long-term vision from Facebook though as Google has shown intent here and already signed the agreement with Alcatel Submarine Networks to make this a reality.

So exciting news for people who were looking forward to Google Stadia and Google’s future cloud platform, though the only obvious bad new being that we will potentially have to wait till 2021 to really get the full benefit of it all.

Last Updated: July 1, 2019

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