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Fourth undersea cable goes live in Kenya

By | Apr 14th 2012 | 2 min read

By Jevans Miyungu

The country’s information technology sector received a rare boost following the entry of the fourth undersea fibre optic cable.

The fibre optic cable, Lower Indian Ocean Network (LION2), to go live after the Government spearheaded East Africa Marine System (Teams), privately owned cable, Seacom and operators-run EASSy.

Telkom Kenya yesterday announced that the submarine cable it has been laying through its parent firm, France Telecom at a cost of Sh5.7 billion, has gone live.

The firm’s Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein said LION2 would boost the country’s bandwidth capacity.

"Besides improving our services, LION2 will also play a great role in addressing redundancy, especially during outages like the ones experienced in March that affected both TEAMs and EASSy," said Ghossein.

The investment, he said, would in turn re-assure business continuity, network stability and reliability to the firm’s customers.

LION2 submarine cable is a 2,700km long extension of the initial Lower Indian Ocean Network that connects Madagascar to the rest of the world, providing alternate onward connectivity from Kenya to Asia and Europe.

The cable extends from Mayotte, an island off the Indian Ocean Coast to Nyali in Mombasa. It links East Africa to Madagascar, Mayotte and the Reunion Island, providing an opportunity for increased international traffic through Kenya which further strengthens the country’s positioning as a regional communication hub.

Ghossein said the cable will currently offer a maximum capacity of I.28 tbps, and in future, this capacity can be increased without additional submarine work.

"The construction of the LION2 cable represents a total investment of around 57 million Euros of which 38 million Euros comes from France Telecom and its subsidiaries."

Investment in the new cable began in the fourth quarter of 2010, with key shareholders being France Telecom-Orange, Telkom Kenya, Mauritius Telecom and Orange Madagascar, as well as carrier companies Emtel Ltd and Société Réunionnaise du Radiotéléphone.

Internet users will be watching keenly to see whether the entry of the cable is likely to push operators to cut prices.

Although a lot of expectation for cheap Internet came with the landing of the undersea fibre optic cables, this has not been the case.

The cost is still way high for retail consumers.

The wholesale prices of bandwidth on international fibre optic cables have come down to below $400, up from $3,500 previously charged by satellite service providers. However, retail consumers are yet to benefit from the drastic fall.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs), who buy bandwidth in bulk from carriers and repackage to sell it to consumers, still charge a premium price.

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