Google’s Plan: Connecting Africa and Australia with the First Subsea Fiber-Optic Cable

Google’s Plan: Connecting Africa and Australia with the First Subsea Fiber-Optic Cable
Image Source: GoogleBy Wed, 29 May 2024 08:47:41 GMT

In a pivotal effort to boost global connectivity, Google is launching an innovative project to build the first subsea fiber-optic cable connecting Africa and Australia. This venture emerges amid intense competition among leading cloud services providers like AWS and Microsoft Azure, with Google aiming to strengthen its position in the market.

The announcement follows a series of connectivity issues across Africa, primarily caused by faulty undersea cables. Recognizing the critical need for resilient internet infrastructure, Google aims to provide a robust solution with its new cable, aptly named "Umoja."

Starting in Kenya, the Umoja cable will traverse several African nations, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The cable’s land journey will culminate in South Africa, where Google established its first African data centre in Johannesburg earlier this year. From there, the cable will continue across the Indian Ocean, reaching Perth, Australia. This ambitious project, once completed, will forge a direct and dependable link between the two continents.

The terrestrial segment of the Umoja route is already completed, thanks to Google’s collaboration with Liquid Intelligent Technologies. The subsea portion is currently under development, though a specific completion date has not been set. Typically, such submarine cable projects take about three years from inception to operation, suggesting that Umoja might be ready by 2026.

Brian Quigley, Google Cloud’s VP for global network infrastructure, emphasized the importance of this new route. He stated, “Umoja will enable African countries to more reliably connect with each other and the rest of the world. Establishing a new route distinct from existing connectivity routes is critical to maintaining a resilient network for a region that has historically experienced high-impact outages.”

The new cable will not only enhance connectivity within Africa but also offer a diversified path for internet traffic, reducing the reliance on existing routes. This is crucial for a continent that has frequently faced significant connectivity disruptions.

Google’s investment in the Umoja cable is part of a broader strategy to bolster its global infrastructure. The company has previously invested in other cabling projects around Africa, such as the Equiano cable, which links Portugal to Nigeria and South Africa. Additionally, Google has announced plans to build one of the first subsea cables connecting South America to the Asia-Pacific region, stretching from Chile to Australia via French Polynesia.

With hundreds of cables crisscrossing the world's oceans, the involvement of tech giants like Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft in these infrastructure projects is increasing. These investments are driven by the need to provide higher quality services, from low-latency YouTube streams to faster data transfers for cloud-based enterprises.

The Umoja cable represents a significant infrastructure investment by Google, promising to improve internet connectivity and resilience across multiple continents. As the project progresses, it will pave the way for enhanced digital integration, benefiting both Africa and Australia with a reliable and diverse internet connection.