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Google to build first undersea fiber optic cable linking Africa and Australia

Google to build first undersea fiber optic cable linking Africa and Australia


Google is preparing to build the first undersea fiber optic cable between Africa and Australia.

The news comes at a time when the big cloud hyperscalers are in fierce competition for business revenue, with Google trying to catch up with AWS and Microsoft's Azure.

Google's announcement comes after widespread power outages across Africa were caused by what was said to be a fault in an undersea cable, and as a company that relies on robust connectivity to deliver services to both consumers and businesses, Google is clearly using this to position itself as the solution.

The new cable, named Umoja, will begin its overland journey in South Africa, starting in Kenya and passing through various countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Notably, Johannesburg is home to Google's first African data center region, which has been operational since the beginning of this year.

The land portion of the route is actually already complete, Google confirmed to TechCrunch. According to TechCrunch, the company worked with a company called Liquid Intelligent Technologies for this part. Work is currently underway to run the cable across the Indian Ocean to Perth, Australia, but a completion date has not yet been determined.

“Umoja will enable African countries to better connect with each other and the rest of the world,” Brian Quigley, Google Cloud's vice president of global network infrastructure, said in a blog post Thursday. “Establishing new routes that are different from existing connectivity routes is critical to maintaining a resilient network in a region that has previously experienced high-impact failures.”

Umoja Cable by Google Image credit: Google

Hundreds of cables crisscross the world's oceans, seas, and waterways, and technology giants like Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft are increasingly interested in this infrastructure. The reason is simple: the more cables and data centers there are, the better the services they can provide to their customers, like lower latency YouTube streaming and faster data transfer speeds for cloud computing-based businesses.

Currently, the closest undersea cable route to Google's planned Umoja route is SUB.CO's Oman-Australia Cable (OAC), which opens in 2022 and connects Oman to Perth. Google itself has already invested in various cable-laying projects mainly in Africa, including Equiano, which connects Portugal with Nigeria and South Africa.

Earlier this year, the company also announced plans to build one of the first undersea cables between South America and the Asia-Pacific, running from Chile through French Polynesia to Australia.

Google hasn't disclosed a specific timeline for Umoja's completion, but a spokesperson told TechCrunch that the construction of a typical undersea cable takes about three years from planning to operation. So, we can probably expect this cable to be ready for prime time by around 2026.




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