Facebook, according to the WSJ, is planning an undersea cable, dubbed ‘Simba,’ – the lead character in “The Lion King,” – to lower its bandwidth costs and strengthen links to the African market.
Referring to “people familiar with the plans”, the WSJ reports that Facebook, is in talks to develop the underwater data cable that would encircle the continent, in“an effort aimed at driving down its bandwidth costs and making it easier for the social media giant to sign up more users.”
The paper reports that the “people”said the‘Simba’ project 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.
However, the WSJ also says that Facebook spokesman Travis Reed declined to comment on the company’s plans for Africa saying: “We look all over the world when we consider subsea cable routes.”
Negotiations for the Simba project are continuing, the people said, cautioning that talks could still fall apart, says the WSJ report which further reports that Google parent Alphabet Inc. is also in talks to build a cable system called Equiano down Africa’s western coast, again quoting people familiar with its plans.
China’s Huawei Technologies Co. is rolling out subsea cable links to Africa through a subsidiary building a cable through the Indian Ocean, the paper further adds.C
Industry executives, it reports, say the proposed Simba system is uniquely ambitious. “The project would give Facebook’s European and Asian data centers a dedicated and reliable link to growing African markets where its apps like WhatsApp are already popular.”
“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,”the WSJ report says.
The company has funded regional networks in developing economies like Uganda to help connect the roughly 3.8 billion people across the globe who still lack internet access, the article concludes.