Undersea cable to link BRICS
Thursday, 19 Apr 2012
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma announced the initiative at the BRICS summit held in Delhi last month, during which he also said that the six countries were considering the establishment of a development bank.
The project is expected to cost between $1bn and $1.6bn (£600m and £1bn), according to analysis performed on behalf of the African i3 telecom company.
The idea behind the BRICS Cable project is to link the countries without having to route traffic through multiple hubs, i3 Africa chairman Andrew Mthembu told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. A call from China to Brazil may have to be routed through the US in two hops, or four or five different hops via Suez, said Mthembu.
At present, the global submarine cable network routes traffic through a series of cables linking disparate countries. The BRICS Cable is designed to allow BRICS countries to be able to communicate with fewer intermediaries, said Mthembu.
The cable feasibility studies, which began in March 2011 shortly after country's admission to BRICS, have been completed, and French-owned telecommunications construction firm Alcatel had finished the route survey.
One of the drivers for the project is cybersecurity. Despite encryption, traffic can be intercepted as it passes through hubs in different countries, and from carrier to carrier. BRICS operators do not retain control of the traffic as it passes through Europe and the US, said Mthembu.
"If you have to travel through four or five different networks, you are that much more vulnerable to interception of your data," said Mthembu. "We all live in a world where cybersecurity is an issue."
The cable would stretch from the Russian Pacific coast, along China, around India, down to SA, then onto Brazil and finally to the US.