How submarine cables connect Nigeria to the internet

To a lot of people, what we call
the internet today is a virtual world that exists only in a land faraway. To them, the internet is a
place, possibly in America, where accurate information can be accessed. Do you
blame them? I don’t. We were taught that the internet was founded in America by
the department of defense and that it was called the ARPANET. What we were not told, is that
every device connected to the internet, becomes a part of the internet, with
the ability to put anything (whether correct or misleading) on the net.

In this article, I want to share
with us how Nigeria is connected and remains a part of the internet. The great
philosopher, Socrates, said that “The unexamined life is not worth
living.” Since the internet is now a part of our lives, it is important
that we examine it to see how we became a part of this global community. This
article will help network engineers/administrators in deciding what ISP to
subscribe to. For example, you need to have a dual connection for redundancy
purpose. How do you make sure that you are not subscribing to two ISPs who are
both connected to the same upper provider? This article will provide you with
the information needed to make such critical decision.

As at today, Nigeria has a total
of six submarine cables that connects her to the rest of the world. Each cable
spans various distance, carrying huge amount of data traffics from Nigeria to
the world. These submarine cables are subscribed to by various internet service
providers in Nigeria who in turn sell their bandwidth to end users like you who
use smartphones and computers to access the internet. Your data traffics go
through your ISP network, through these cables to the rest of the world. They
are:
>>Africa Coast to Europe
(ACE)
>>Glo-1
>>Main-One
>>Nigeria Cameroon
Submarine Cable System (NCSCS)
>>SAT-3/WASC
>>West African Cable System
Let’s look at them one after the
other:
Africa Coast to Europe (ACE): One of the most advanced submarine cables to
connect Nigeria to the internet. The cable is owned by a consortium of 19
operators and administrator headed by Orange telecoms. The first phase of the
17,000Km fibre optic cable was commissioned on the 15th of December, 2012. It
connects Nigeria and the following countries to the internet: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana), Gambia), Equatorial
Guinea, South Africa, Portugal, Guinea, Benin, Senegal, Sierra
Leone, Nigeria, Gabon, Angola, Liberia, Congo
DRMauritania, France, Sao Tome and Principe, Namibia, Canary Islands, Spain.
The ACE submarine cable has an
overall potential of 5.12 Terabits/s and MTN is one of its owners. Its landing
point in Nigeria is Lagos. 
Glo-1: The Glo-1 submarine cable is owned by Globalcom,
an indigenous technology company. It’s a 9,800Km submarine cable that runs
between Nigeria and the UK. It was commissioned in 2011 with a present total
bandwidth capacity of 2.5 Terabits/s. The Glo-1 cable has presence in the
following countries:  Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. It carries data traffics for Glo and other ISPs like Coollink,
Internet Solutions Nigeria, Phase3 telecoms, Cobranet Nigeria, Zeta Web, etc.
Main-One: Main-One is another indigenous cable provider in
Nigeria. It is owned by Main Street Technology, a technology company headquartered
in Lagos, Nigeria. The cable stretches across a 14,000Km distance, between Portugal and South Africa with landing
points in Lagos and other African countries. It was commissioned in July, 2010
with a total bandwidth capacity of 1.28 Terabits/s. The Main-One submarine
cable carries traffics for Main-One, Phase3 Telecoms, Interswitch, VDT
Telecoms, etc.
Nigeria Cameroon Submarine Cable
System (NCSCS)
: The
NCSCS is a 1,100Km submarine cable that runs between Nigeria and Cameroon. It
was completed in December, 2015 with a total bandwidth capacity of 12.8
Terabits/s. From the day of its commission, an initial bandwidth utilization of
40Gbp/s was recorded on the link. The
Cameroon Telecoms (Camtel) owned NCSCS connects Cameroon to the internet via
Nigeria.
SAT-3/WACS: The SAT-3/WACS undersea cable, one of the longest
submarine cables in the world, spanning across seventeen different countries,
is owned by a consortium that includes Nigerian Telecommunications Limited. It
connects multiple African countries, including Nigeria, to the internet. It’s a
14,350Km cable that stretches between South Africa and Portugal, with landing
points in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, etc. It has a combined North and South
capacity of 1.720 Terabits/s. Ntel is one of the ISPs in Nigeria presently
subscribed to SAT-3.
West African Cable System (WACS):
The West African Cable System is unarguably the longest submarine cable to land
in Nigeria. With a distance of 14,530Km, stretching across multiple African
countries to Europe, WACS is owned by a consortium of over ten companies that
includes MTN. It currently has a total bandwidth capacity of 14.5Tbits/s and
carries traffics for MTN.
Every one of the multiple
internet service providers in Nigeria, make use of one, two or three of these
cables to transmit and receive data traffics across the internet. Any computer,
phone, or any device connect to any of these cables through any ISP, becomes a part
of the internet. The internet is everywhere and Nigeria is a part of it.
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Timigate

Ashioma Michael, a BSc (Computer Science)., MTCNA, CCNA, and CCNP holder with many years of industry-proven experience in network design, implementation and optimization. He has tutored and guided many professionals towards obtaining their Cisco certifications. Mike works as a senior network engineer with one of the leading internet service providers in West Africa.

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