Google is working on submarine cable connecting Europe to Africa

Google is working on submarine cable connecting Europe to Africa

Google is working on another private submarine cable. This cable is intended to connect Western Europe with Africa. The cable is called Equiano and must run between Portuguese Lisbon and Cape Town in South Africa.

Google also plans to build several branches of the cable, expanding the company’s connectivity to other African countries such as Nigeria, reports Silicon Angle.

The cable is built with something called space-division multiplexing technology, which offers twenty times more network capacity than previous submarine cables. It will also be the first cable in the world to use fiber-pair optical switching. This simplifies the allocation of cable capacity.

A contract has been signed with Alcatel Submarine Networks for the development of the cable. The first phase of the development of the cable should be completed in 2021.

Google pays for itself

The construction of the cable is financed by Google itself. This makes it the third submarine cable of the Internet giant for its own use. The other cables are Curie, which connects Western Europe with Chile, and Dunant, which connects the east coast of the United States with France.

Building those cables is pretty pricey. The Dunant cable and the Curie project would have accounted for more than a billion dollars. Still, the cables come with many advantages. For example, Google now buys network capacity from existing cables, or uses cables made by a collective of partners. That means it has to share connections.

By building cables all by itself, Google can use the full bandwidth of the cables for its own purposes, without having to share. The company can also adapt the cables to its specific technical requirements, giving it more control over how the traffic is managed.


Google mentions its cables to important, historical figures. Dunant, for example, was named after the founder of the Red Cross and the first winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: Henri Dunant. The Curie Cable is named after the chemist and Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie.

Equiano is in turn named after Olaudah Equiano. He was a writer and abolitionist who was born in Nigeria and enslaved as a child. He was then sent to the British West Indies before being sold to American slave traders.

Eventually he regained his freedom and moved to England. There Equiano became a prominent member of the anti-slavery movement and the 1780s. His autobiography is said to have contributed to the passage of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which prohibited the African slave trade.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.