Google’s undersea internet cable will connect Togo to Europe

The first leg of Google’s Equiano undersea internet cable – which will eventually run from Cape Town, South Africa, to Lisbon, Portugal – has landed in Lomé, Togo, the company Friday. The huge fiber optic cable will be that of Google first from Africa to Europe, and is expected to bring Internet connectivity to millions of people on both continents. This will have a particular impact in Togo, where, according to it is estimated that 74% of people do not have access to the Internet. The cable should provide 20 times more Internet capacity in the region.

Google began investing heavily in undersea cable internet almost a decade ago, with its first co-ownership cable project Unity (which stretches from Chikura, Japan to Redondo Beach, California) commissioned in 2010. The company has invested, either alone or as part of a consortium, a total of . Its latest completed project, Dunant, entered service in January 2021 and stretches from Virginia Beach to the French coast.

Alphabet far from the only tech giant to invest heavily , which have become more ubiquitous with the growth of mobile internet. Google, along with Meta, Microsoft and Amazon, now dominate the world’s critical wired infrastructure, while the the wall street journal . Last month, Meta announced plans to build at least two by 2027.

Submarine cables have a notable drawback: the cables can tear and either due to natural disasters or human activities such as . Cable breaks are particularly along the African coasts, and can leave whole regions without connectivity for . Last year, a massive landslide in South Africa caused two undersea cables to , leading to service disruptions and slowdowns across the continent. But in the event of a break, a nearby submarine cable can be used as a backup.

Once in service, Equiano will provide additional insurance to a region that badly needs it. After Togo, Equiano’s next stop will be Nigeria and Namibia, before heading to his final landing in Cape Town, South Africa. It should be fully operational later this year.

Mary I. Bruner