Facebook set to snatch world record for longest undersea web cable

Facebook 2Africa
(Image credit: Facebook)

Facebook has announced an additional segment for its undersea web cable 2Africa, which will make it the longest ever deployed.

Announced in May 2020, the 2Africa cable was set to run 37,000km across the ocean floor, connecting 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

With the addition of the 2Africa Pearls segment, which will extend the cable as far as India and Pakistan, the cable is now expected to run a total of 45,000km once complete.

Facebook 2Africa

(Image credit: Facebook)

Facebook 2Africa cable

Developed in partnership with a range of global telecoms firms, the 2Africa project is part of Facebook’s wider ambition to build an “open and inclusive internet ecosystem” and “bring people online to a faster internet”, the company wrote last year.

With only a quarter of Africans currently connected to the internet, the new undersea web cable will provide much-needed capacity, redundancy and reliability. In its original form, the cable was set to service 1.2 billion people, but the additional segment will extend its reach to three billion.

The cable has also been developed to mitigate the traditional limitations of undersea cable networks. For example, damage to fibre optic cables caused by ships and harsh conditions is common, occurring over 100 times per year.

To ensure maximum redundancy and availability, the 2Africa cable has been designed to allow for a 50% increase in burial depth (now up to 3 meters) and will be routed in such a way as to avoid the most problematic subsea locations, which should limit the scope for breakages.

“The past 18 months have highlighted the importance of connectivity as billions of people around the world rely on the internet to work, attend school, and stay connected to people they care about,” wrote Kevin Salvadori, VP Networking Infrastructure at Facebook, in a blog post.

“We continue to invest in subsea cables in Africa and beyond, as communities and businesses flourish when there is widely accessible internet.”

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Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.