Emma Okonji
No fewer than fifteen months after it bought over Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm MTel, through a guided liquidation process, NatCom Development and Investment Limited, trading as ntel, has announced the successful repair and return to service of its SAT-3 submarine cable.

SAT-3, also known as the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine cable, is the longest submarine communications cable in the world with 17 landing points linking Portugal and Europe to South Africa, with connections to several West African countries along the route.

It forms part of the SAT-3/WASC/SAFE cable system, where the South Africa Far East (SAFE) cable links South Africa to Asia. SAT-3 provides access to global markets and enables seamless and diverse connectivity to the rest of the world

In a statement announcing the successful repair and return to service of the SAT-3 cable, the chief executive officer of ntel, Mr. Kamar Abass, said: “The repair of SAT-3 is fantastic news for data-hungry consumers and corporates in need of superfast and abundant broadband carried over a robust fibre network with significant capacity and low latency.

“SAT-3’s 17 landing points and intermediate branches in-country and abroad, provide for connections all the way to the Far East, thanks to our alliance with SAFE.”

Potential customers of SAT-3 include Nigeria’s telecoms and Long Term Evolution (LTE) operators, internet service providers (ISPs), major international companies, private telecom operators, content/hosting operators, infomedics/infomatics operators, the judiciary for the execution of real-time on-line matters, banks and the military, as well as airline operators.

SAT-3’s repair also includes the cable’s physical diversion away from shipping lanes. In the past, the dropping and dragging of anchors from ships had been associated with disruptions of the cable system.

With the repaired system’s activation, the system’s Upgrade IV would also be implemented. This boosts its throughput capacity from 420Gbps to 920Gbps in the northern segments and from 340Gbps to 800Gbps in the southern segments, Abass said.

Nigeria’s SAT-3 is now positioned to better address the country’s need for superfast internet connectivity, data-hungry applications, high-quality video-on-demand and increasing social media usage, thus enhancing customer experience.

Today, submarine cable systems carry more than 98 per cent of all overseas voice, data and video traffic, Abass added.

He explained that the return of SAT-3 was significant in many respects.
First launched in 2001, it was the precursor for internet access between Europe and West Africa and it took off where SAT-2 left off as it reached full capacity.

SAT-2 was brought into service in the early 1990s as a replacement for the original undersea cable SAT-1 that was constructed in the 1960s.

With Upgrade V now planned for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2016, SAT3 will surpass the 1000 STM-1 mark in the third quarter of 2016, thus providing even more capacity for the transformation of Nigeria’s broadband landscape, Abass said.

According to him, “In 2016, ntel expects to connect hundreds of new customers to the SAT-3 system, including many who have successfully used the system in the recent past.”