SACS Angola-Brazil cable ready mid-2015; Telebras onboard, shelves US link

15 Nov 2013

The CEO of Angola Cables, Antonio Nunes, has confirmed that construction of the South Atlantic Cable System (SACS) linking Angola and Brazil will start early next year and be completed in around 18 months, meaning that the ready-for-service (RFS) date has been pushed back to mid-2015 from an earlier forecast of end-2014. Alcatel-Lucent, NEC and TE Connectivity reportedly remain in the running to be selected for the SACS rollout contract worth USD170 million-USD200 million. In an interview quoted by Bloomberg, Nunes explained that SACS will provide a new faster cable route between South America and Asia by cutting out North America and Europe – running south from Angola to South Africa and onwards via existing cables to Asia, creating ‘the shortest distance between the Sao Paulo and Hong Kong stock markets, which will be appealing to banks … Even saving 100-160 millionths of a second adds up to a lot over time.’ Angola Cables – which is owned by five Angolan operators Angola Telecom (51%), Unitel (31%), MSTelcom (9%), Movicel (6%) and Startel (3%) – remains in the process of arranging a project financing syndicate for the Angola-Brazil cable with domestic banks and foreign lenders, while the government will guarantee a return on the investment in the cable, Nunes added. Looking ahead, he continued that within two years Angola Cables aims to establish a terrestrial high speed cable route from Angola through Zambia to Tanzania within two years to remove the necessity of routing data to/from Asia via South Africa. Angola Cables is also involved in a proposed Brazil-US (Miami) cable project with its Brazilian SACS partner Telebras, the executive said.

Telebras’ president, Caio Bonilha, confirmed in a related interview quoted by Brazilian website TeleTime that the telco has received approval from its board to resume progress on the SACS project (following a break to focus on domestic network improvements for the football Confederations Cup), saying: ‘We are resuming the [cable] projects, and the most advanced is the link Brazil-Angola, led by Angola Cables.’ Telebras still has designs on other new routes including a Portugal-Brazil cable (sharing the same Fortaleza landing site in Brazil with SACS) and a proposed new route to the US (Miami) to lower per-Mbps costs, but Bonilha added that links to the US have been relegated to low priority due to the recent allegations of spying by the American security agency, the NSA, disclosing that negotiations with US partners ‘are well advanced, but now, because of these issues, no longer a priority.’

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