IOX Cable has today announced that Mauritius Telecom has signed an agreement as an anchor tenant to enhance global internet connectivity on the IOX submarine cable system.
IOX Cable Map
The IOX Cable system, which will connect Mauritius, La Réunion and Rodrigues Island to South Africa and India, is the third Mauritian submarine cable initiative which will provide much-needed internet bandwidth to Mauritius through an innovative and resilient network design of the submarine cable system.
The system, which will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) of France, will span more than 8,850km and will provide an ultimate design capacity of over 13 Tbit/s per fiber pair. It is scheduled to go live in 2019.
“We are extremely delighted to have Mauritius Telecom on board and it reinforces our commitment to Mauritius to provide enhanced and abundant capacity,” said Arunachalam Kandasamy, CEO of IOX Cable.
“With world-class open access data centers being built in Mauritius, coupled with the rapid deployment of cloud-based services, the IOX Cable System will be a driving force behind these key initiatives by providing better connectivity and putting an emphasis on high availability through diverse network design.”
The IOX Cable system will be the first open access cable system in the region and it offers the opportunity for any licensed operators to benefit from the latest technology and seamless access throughout the life cycle of the cable system.
Combined with IOX Cable's integrated service offerings the system will provide seamless interconnection to existing and future submarine cable system off the east coast of Africa and India, and also provide onward connectivity to the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.
IOX Cable also announced that they will be expanding their reach to now include La Réunion as part of its construction of a new state of the art submarine cable system. This initiative is an expansion to the planned IOX cable system to connect South Africa to India and Asia. This connectivity will offer new routes and redundancy between La Reunion, South Africa and India.
Through this expansion IOX will further its regional strategy of promoting regional economic development across the Indian Ocean Islands by offering them with not only open access to abundant capacity but also state of the art products and services. These new products and services will enable operators to leverage the IOX infrastructure, its Internet of Things capabilities and get access to other value-added services such as cloud computing and unified communications.
Commenting on this announcement, Anup Gupta, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of IOX Cable said: “We are seeing robust demand from network, cloud, and content providers looking to leverage our regional position to access the African and Asian markets through our state of the art submarine cable system. By offering robust connectivity to these regions and providing them with seamless direct connectivity to South Africa and Asia, we will support the needs of key regional operators looking to expand and access these regional economic centers, thus keeping our promise to be the Digital Enabler for the region.”
Sources: Capacity Media, Africa.com
ANALYSIS: Although the nature and extent of Mauritius Telecom’s underwriting of the IOX system is not clear, this announcement clearly is a step forward for IOX in its efforts to develop a private submarine cable system that not only serves the island markets of the east coast of Africa but could potentially be a new conduit for westbound Asian traffic.
Currently, SAFE, a consortium cable built mainly by incumbent telecom operators in 2002, is the only cable connecting South Africa directly to Asia. This is an old cable with limited capacity and an outdated pricing structure. The cable is also rumored to have had several maintenance issues in the recent past.
The vast majority of westbound Asia traffic currently uses submarine cables which cross Egypt from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt is notorious for charging exorbitant cross-connect fees to traverse its territory, not to mention political instability and obfuscation, and is one of the main subsea bottlenecks in the world. A state-of-the-art submarine cable offering an alternate path via South Africa would be likely to attract a significant proportion of this traffic, especially if that traffic is bound for North America because the latency disadvantage would be minimal.
IOX has made many announcements about its progress since November 2016 and it is clear that it has the support of regional operators. Indeed, this announcement by Mauritius Telecom probably sounds the death knell of a proposed competing consortium cable called “METTIS” (MElting poT Indianoceanic Submarine System). However, IOX has been silent on landing parties in South Africa and India and its funding plan states “Most of the private equity investment is expected from India due to the recent signature of the Indo - Mauritius Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (The Treaty).”
The connection to Puducherry, near Chennai, would afford interconnectivity with three major cable systems that cross the Bay of Bengal (BBG, i2i, and TGN-TICSCS) and connect India to the Malaysian peninsula and Singapore.
The connection from Rodrigues to the Indian mainland is therefore critical in transforming IOX from a small regional cable operator competing in limited island markets, with an anchor tenant that has interests in all three cables serving Mauritius, into a major new intercontinental route serving transit traffic between Asia and North America.
With several cables now under development from West and South Africa to the Americas, such as SAIL, SACS, and SAEx, this vision of an alternative to the route via Suez looks more viable. However, the funding for the connection to India will be difficult to achieve and certainly will not come as a result of an obscure piece of Indian tax legislation.
Julian Rawle, Author
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