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Friday, June 29, 2012

WACS launch brings faster, cheaper internet to Botswana

Botswana and Namibia this week inaugurated their links to a 14,000 kilometre (8,700 mile) underground cable system that provides both countries with faster and cheaper internet connectivity.

According to the AFP, the $75 million fibre optic submarine West African Cable System (WACS), which went live in Namibia last month, delivers a speed of 5.12 terabits per second and stretches down the west coast of Africa from Britain to South Africa."Information and communication technology is an important factor for Namibia and will open doors for socio-economic development," AFP quoted Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba as saying at the ceremony in Swakopmund on Tuesday.

"The West African Cable System is a significant achievement."  Botswana shared the $75 million local costs of the cable with Namibia, with the landing point in Namibia's coastal Swakopmund some 370 kilometres west of the capital. "The WACS will be a great benefit for Botswana and also brings both our countries closer," said President Ian Khama who was on a three-day state visit to Namibia. The 14,000 kilometre West Africa Cable System (WACS) carrying data and telephony services, links Europe to 15 landing stations along the west coast of Africa, including South Africa.

With Botswana having no direct link to the sea, government partnered with Namibia to each raise US$37.5 million (P277.5 million) to "buy into" the project with other countries.Botswana and Namibia thus own 9.2 percent of the project, which will be operated on an open access policy with other stakeholders. WACS becomes the latest submarine cable system to hit local shores since the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). EASSy went live early last year, immediately lowering Internet and mobile costs and allowing a five-year plan for further reductions. With a data rate of 5.12 terabits per second, WACS will be superior to EASSy, which at 3.8 terabits per second is already among the fastest in the world. WACS is designed to support present and future internet, e-commerce, and data, video and voice services. Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Group CEO, Paul Taylor recently said WACS would enhance Botswana's international connectivity by providing the nation with high quality and reliable internet accessibility.

"Broadband access is no longer a privilege but a right to be enjoyed by all citizens," he said in response to Business Week enquiries. "We are confident that through WACS, internet speed and connectivity will increase considerably at a price that makes internet services affordable for many of our citizens." BTC Group general manager (Programme Management), Christopher Diswai said the submarine cable would reduce the cost to connect the west coast of Africa to high-speed global telecommunications network for many years to come.According to BTC officials, WACS deployment began in 2009 and the four-fibre pair system was successfully landed at Swakopmund, Namibia, on February 8, 2011.

Sourced from: Mmegi Online

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