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Fast Broadband for South African Universities

Critical portions of Seacom’s 17,000 kilometre under-sea fibre optic cable linking Africa to Europe and India were completed last month. This marks a momentous occasion for higher education in South Africa. This will enable South African universities to have fast and affordable internet that handles large volumes of data, something that universities around the world have been used to for some time.

Duncan Greaves, acting CEO of the Centre for Higher Education Transfer, said Seacom’s completion last month had profound implications for South Africa’s tertiary education institutions.

“Universities in the northern hemisphere have had 10 to 100 times as much bandwidth than SA universities, the Seacom cable will bring about parity. This will enable SA universities to participate in a meaningful way in research, development and education that was not possible before. It will also enhance our ability to attract and retain professionals who need proper broadband to work.”

The Seacom cable boasts 1.2 terabits per second (tpbs) and should come online by 23 July 2009.

South Africa’s higher education and research institutions will be the first to benefit from this. TENET a charitable company owned by South Africa’s universities and research councils has a deal with Seacom to buy 10 GB/s for the duration of the cable’s lifespan.

Telecommunications infrastructure that takes bandwidth from the cable landing stations to the country’s 98-odd campuses is being put in place, first using temporary arrangements to ensure new levels of broadband are available sooner. A backbone network that takes broadband from the beach to the universities’ campuses should be finished in six months’ time, and will hopefully be fully operational by the start of next year.

This will be good news for researchers and students involved in data-intensive research like oceanography, radio astronomy, and physicists, who were longing to access nuclear research taking place at CERN in Europe. The cable will give them the type of bandwidth they need to access high-performance computing facilities.

Information for this post was found on University World News Africa Edition. To read more go to the full article by Bill Corcoran in University World News Africa Edition by Clicking Here!

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