AT&T in Africa- 5/2/94

AT&T in Africa- 5/2/94

Message-Id: <9405022238.AA15439@MIT.EDU> From: (Silvio O Tavares) Date: 2 May 94 17:33:11 GMT To: afriqnews@MIT.EDU, africans@MIT.EDU Subject: AT&T In Africa


AT&T yesterday proposed a concept for an information network that would ring Africa, connecting African nations with each other and the rest of the world via undersea fiber-optic cables. William Carter, president of AT&T Submarine Systems, Inc., said the Africa Optical Network envisioned by AT&T would assure that African nations would not fall behind in the growth of information technology. The AT&T proposal calls for cable-landing points in African nations with a coastline; nations in the continent's interior would be linked to the system via satellite, microwave radio, cellular and terrestrial communications. The network, which he called Africa ONE, would be operated by African authorities, assuring that revenues from the system remain in Africa. The undersea cable system ringing the continent would be 32,000 kilometers in length and would complement the region's existing networks. (See news item below.)


AFRICAN SYSTEM -- AT&T proposed a billion- dollar plan for connecting Africa with high-tech communications and improving service for millions of customers. AT&T's concept, which would need international approval and funding, involves building a 20,000-mile fiber-optic ring around the African continent by the end of 1997 or early 1998. African countries could then tap into this common ring, which would be connected to other networks worldwide. These nations would also own and operate the new system. Like other information highway proposals, AT&T depends on numerous factors beyond its control. The biggest: how to pay for such a system. "This is not a pipe dream," an AT&T spokesman said, but a financial necessity. He noted that African communications traffic has been growing an average 12% to 15% annually, with 204.9 million minutes of calls made to Africa from just the U.S. in 1992. "There are improvements to be made in Africa," he said, "and multinational companies that want to do business there want more reliable international links, including data." [WSJ]

Under the plan, cables would come ashore at 39 points in the 32 mainland African countries with coasts and 5 island nations or territories. Connections to the interior countries would be over standard links. Currently, most communications in and out of Africa are transmitted by satellites, which provide lower quality and are more expensive to use than optical cable, officials said. William Carter, president of AT&T Submarine Systems Inc., said the company hoped to have agreement on building the network by the end of next year and to have it in service by the end of 1997. [NY Times]

"African nations need to be connected to the global marketplace," said Carter. [Wash. Times]

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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