In September last year, we sat down with some of our attendees at Submarine Networks World 2015 to get their take on the current state of the subsea world, and the future they envision for the business. This interview is part of the e-book series “Subsea Soundbites” which can be downloaded here. In this post, we speak with Yves Ruggeri, Chairman of Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) and & Head of Network Strategy and Submarine Systems, Orange.
What can the industry expect from Orange this year?
For the coming year, what’s really big and new for us, is the announcement of what we call Segment 4 of ACE, which is linking an area called Sao Tomé & Principe to South Africa, which will enable ACE to have full connectivity from France to South Africa, and this is a really big project.
Give us 3 words or phrases to describe the current state of the industry
Demand is growing, definitely, we see a growth for Orange and ACE, the growth is always higher than expected, and this is very important. We see a demand for diversity, that is one cable is not enough, never enough.
Security is also very important, and it will become even more important in the coming years.
What in your opinion is a recent industry Game Changer?
From the usage point of view, you have bigger and bigger HD movies and games which take more space. You also have more and more Internet users, once you’re inside you’ll never get out and we’re using it more and more; the demand for it is a real driver.
Also, from an industry point of view, I think the OTTs such as Google and Facebook, you can’t afford to ignore them now. They are now part of the industry, similar to how the big carriers were.
What could be some of the potential bottlenecks in the subsea value chain?
I think the bottlenecks are always the same, which is money. Raising money, it has never been easy, and is still difficult. Even if everyone agrees on the need for a new cable or investment, it’s always long to prove it because the investor will wait until the last minute before they sign on. It’s always a game which needs a few years, 2 to 3 years before launching the cable. It is something very specific to the industry, it actually takes more time to make it happen than to build the cable itself.
How are you finding the event?
I’ve been coming for a few years now, and it’s always very interesting. 2015 is a big success, I think both the attendance and seniority of the attendees are really good. The discussions both in and out of the room are also fantastic.
ACE is a consortium of telecom operators from Africa and Europe. The Consortium has recently launched segments one, two and three of the ACE submarine cable for commercial service since 19th December, 2012. These segments being the first phase stretched from France to Sao Tome connecting 15 coastal countries and 2 landlocked countries, namely, Mali and Niger.
The supply contract for the second phase, which will complete the 17,000 km cable distance to South Africa, has been signed and the construction is underway. This plans to provide landing stations in Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia and South Africa, with the desire to further connect landlocked countries along the way. In the end, 23 countries will be connected to the ACE submarine system.
The ACE system that is being upgraded to the 100G technology, will increase its design capacity from 5.12 Tbps to 12.8 Tbps. The system is supported by wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology that would accommodate tomorrow’s ultra-broadband networks.
The ACE submarine system has positioned itself as a key driver of Africa’s social and economic growth. The 19 members of the ACE Consortium are Benin, Cable Consortium of Liberia, Canalink, Cote d’Ivoire Telecom, Dolphin, Orange France, Gambia Submarine Cable Company, GUILAB, International Mauritania Telecom, Republic of Cameroun, Orange Mali, Orange Niger, MEO, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Gabon, Sierra Leone Cable (SALCAB) Limited, Sonatel and STP CABO “. The consortium is pleased to announce the formal launching into operations of the Benin, Lagos and Tenerife branches by June 2015.
Catch more of such discussions at Submarine Networks 2016, which takes place 17 – 19 October in Singapore!