Facebook and telecom companies team up to build a $1 billion Internet cable the size of earth’s circumference.

May 15. 2020

Social media giant Facebook is partnering with several telecom companies that include China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange and Vodafone to build the “most comprehensive” subsea Internet cable that will wrap around the continent of Africa.

The project, dubbed 2Africa, is expected to provide Internet access to more than 1 billion people who are currently offline.

Its main consumer target is Africa’s young population, whose median age is only 19.7 years.

Official costs for the massive project have not been revealed yet, but Bloomberg estimates the investment to cost roughly $1 billion USD. The project is expected to be completed by 2024.

The Internet cables will stretch 22,990 miles (37,000km) in circumference, which is almost the same size as earth’s circumference of 24,901 miles (40,075 km), and will interconnect 23 countries in total, 16 of which are African countries.

The cable, which will be built by Nokia Oyj’s Alcatel Submarine Networks, will be deeper than previous systems and offer greater protection along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Nick Gliddon, director of Vodafone said, “We need to ensure that there is enough internet capacity to not only get people online, but to help build a modern digital society that includes services that require a large amount of data transfer, such as cloud computing or video.”

Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business, shares a similar vision: “2Africa will give local businesses and consumers a better online experience while more connectivity between Africa, Europe and the Middle East will help to build a wider, more inclusive digital society across the globe.” said 

In 2018, China’s Huawei completed a 3,750 mile (6,035 KM) cable between Brazil and Cameroon, and last year the company began to work on a 7,500-mile cable connecting Europe, Asia and Africa.