Tuesday, December 1

Facebook wants to build underwater cable dubbed ‘Simba’ around Africa

Plans aimed at lowering its bandwidth costs and strengthening link to African market

Facebook Inc. is circling Africa. Literally.

The company is in talks to develop an underwater data cable that would encircle the continent, according to people familiar with the plans, an effort aimed at driving down its bandwidth costs and making it easier for the social media giant to sign up more users.

The three-stage project, named Simba after the lead character in “The Lion King,” could link up with beachheads in several countries on the continent’s eastern, western and Mediterranean coasts, though the exact route and number of landings is in flux, the people said.

Facebook spokesman Travis Reed declined to comment on the company’s plans for Africa. “We look all over the world when we consider subsea cable routes,” he said.

‘When you’re one of the biggest users of bandwidth, it’s entirely rational to cut out the middleman and get the capacity at-cost.’

Alan Mauldin, an analyst at market researcher TeleGeography

Simba isn’t Facebook’s first foray into subsea cables, the high-capacity fiber-optic lines that carry most of the world’s core internet traffic. The company has led projects linking markets in North America, Europe and East Asia, usually sharing the investment burden with traditional telecommunications companies, which lack the cash to lay down the cables on their own. Continue reading

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