First WACS upgrade meeting in Windhoek
The West Africa Cable System (WACS) consortium this week met in the capital to discuss the upgrade of the system’s capacity. Chairman of the upgrade working group Daniel Welt said that though the project is on track, the majority of parties participate but not all of them.
“The schedule is very tight we don’t have a much margin, we are introducing a new supplier to be running side by side with the current supplier, this might bring complexity.”
A major development on the project is the introduction of a new supplier, China’s Huawei Marine, with whom Namibian relations have steadily improved in recent years. The new, bigger Huawei products will run parallel to the existing 10gig Alcatel system although no new fibres will be laid. Instead new wavelengths will be used, new boxes with more ports on more racks installed at landing stations and the Huawei products integrated. The system was officially commissioned in May 2012 and since then the bandwidth uptake has been quite enormous. This has forced the WACS consortium to go out on tender to upgrade the system. The tendering process was finalised and the supplier appointed in December 2014. Global telecoms operators from South Africa, Botswana, Angola, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde Islands, Spain, Portugal, UK, India and Canada were represented at the meeting. Telecom Namibia is committed to contribute about US$1,2 million (N$14 800 000), along with Botswana to make up the region’s US$3,6 million portion of the US$25 million international upgrade.
The system upgrade process will be undertaken in two phases, with phase 1 expected to be completed by end of June while phase 2 will be ready by end of October. A new NMD platform (Huawei iManager U2000) will be deployed to work side by side with the existing ASN platform, the upgrade will also add racks in all the stations. “The upgrade will add capacity in the entire network using 100gbps channels, with new channels and wavelengths being added to the cables, a new SDH platform (Huawei OSN 9560 has already been installed in all WACS stations”, said Welt. The current upgrade will increase the capacity of the upgrading parties from 11% to 45% of their total capacity entitlement of the WACS system design capacity. Subsequent upgrade phases will be implemented in the future depending on the future bandwidth demand until parties reach their 100% WACS design capacity entitlement.