Google to build first subsea fibre optic cable connecting Africa with Australia

23.05.2024


Google is preparing to construct the first submarine fiber optic cable linking the continents of Africa and Australia.This development comes amidst fierce competition among major cloud hyperscalers for business shares, with Google striving to catch up with AWS and Microsoft’s Azure.

Google’s move follows widespread disruptions across Africa attributed to faulty undersea cables. As a company heavily reliant on robust connectivity to deliver its services to consumers and businesses, Google appears keen on leveraging this opportunity to establish itself as a solution provider.

Dubbed “Umoja,” the new cable originates in Kenya and traverses through various nations including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe before reaching its terrestrial endpoint in South Africa — notably, where Google’s inaugural African data center region has been operational in Johannesburg since the beginning of the year.

Confirming, Google stated that the terrestrial segment of the route is already finished, achieved in collaboration with Liquid Intelligent Technologies. Efforts to lay the cable across the Indian Ocean towards Perth, Australia, are underway, with no confirmed timeline for completion.

“Umoja will facilitate more reliable connectivity among African nations and the rest of the world,” remarked Brian Quigley, Google Cloud’s VP for global network infrastructure, in a Thursday blog post. “Establishing a new route distinct from existing connectivity routes is crucial for maintaining a resilient network in a region that has historically experienced significant outages.”

The world’s seas, oceans, and waterways are already home to hundreds of cables, with major tech players including Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft increasingly investing in this infrastructure. The rationale is clear: the more cables and data centers, the better quality of service they can offer, whether it’s lower-latency YouTube streams or faster data transfers for cloud-dependent enterprises.

The closest current subsea cable route to Google’s planned Umoja route is SUB.CO’s Oman Australia Cable (OAC), which commenced operations in 2022, linking Oman to Perth. Google has already invested in various cable projects in Africa, such as Equiano, connecting Portugal to Nigeria and South Africa.

Earlier this year, the company also announced plans to construct one of the first subsea cables connecting South America to the Asia-Pacific region, running from Chile to Australia via French Polynesia.

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