Undersea or submarine cables carry bulk capacity for Internet access across continents. These are fibre optic cables laid on the ocean floor for thousands of kilometres and connecting multiple countries. These cables transmit huge amounts of data rapidly from one point to another. The types of data they transmit include  telephone, Internet, and private data traffic. As at April 2022, there are seven international submarine cables in Nigeria, with over 140 terrabits of combined capacity.

Undersea/Submarine Cables in Nigeria
  1. SAT-3/WASC or South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine cable is owned by Natcom Development and Investment Limited, trading as ntel. Capacity: 800 gigabits
  2. MainOne cable. Capacity: 10 terrabits
  3. Glo-1 or Globacom-1 cable; owned by Globacom Limited. Capacity: 2.5 terrabits
  4. ACE (African Coast to Europe) submarine cable by the Dolphin consortium that includes Dolphin Telecom, Orange, MTN, and others. Capcity: 12.8 terrabits
  5. WACS (West African Cable System) by MTN. Capacity: 14.5 terrabits
  6. NCSCS (Nigeria-Cameroon Submarine Cable System) owned by Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL), in a partnership with MainOne. Capacity: 12.8 terrabits.
  7. Equiano, owned by Google LLC and the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC). Capacity: 100 terrabits.

With a combined capacity of over 140 terrabits, the country is far from utilizing a significant portion of its Internet capacity. For perspective, in 2019 when total capacity was a little over 40 terrabits, Nigeria was using less than 10% of its capacity then.

How do Submarine Cables work?

Undersea cables connect to the country through at landing stations, from which broadband capacity is distributed to Internet Service Providers and telecom operators, who in turn resell to end users and subscribers as data plans. This last mile delivery to end users can be via cable or wireless over a mobile network or a Wi-Fi hotspot.

What are the Benefits of Submarine Cables?

Submarine cables are less prone to disruptions in service from the weather. They also transmit data at extremely fast speeds, making it possible for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver faster Internet service. In addition, the availability of bulk capacity drives lower unit cost of Internet service in the connected countries.

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