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Undersea Cable to Expand South Africa's Internet Capacity


The South African government says it’s going to lay a $700 million underwater cable that will greatly increase the speed and quality of the country’s Internet service. The cable would link South Africa to Brazil and London. The link to Brazil could be ready in about two years.

VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke to English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the reasons for the broadband cable.

“Basically, to link up with the rest of the world’s high-speed communication networks. We do have a cable currently up the west coast of Africa, but it’s reached its sell-by date in a sense. It just doesn’t have the capacity and doesn’t have the speed that is needed for modern communications,” she says.

The cost of an Internet connection in South Africa can be high. “I think part of that has got to do with the fact that our telecom lines…are not fiber optic as yet. And because of the lack of capacity in international cable we’re paying premium costs for connections to the rest of the world,” he says.

Increased broadband capacity could also make South Africa more attractive as a site for a giant telescope to study space. “South Africa is one of two countries, the other being Australia, that has been short-listed for the giant international telescope which will be known as the Square Kilometer Array. South Africa is particularly well located for that. In our Northern Cape area we have conditions that are particularly conducive for a space exploration telescope,” she says. Having the latest and best Internet capacity would allow scientists around the world to share the data gathered by the telescope.