France Telecom, Alcatel-Lucent to build "Africa Coast to Europe" network

France Telecom (NYSE: FTE) and the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) consortium will jointly construct a $700 million submarine cable network that will stretch from Western France to Cape Town, South Africa.

Serving 23 countries, ACE's "Africa Coast to Europe" network will span over 17,000 km and includes 5.12 Tbps of design capacity and built-in 40 Gbps capabilities to deliver network capacity to and from Africa and Europe. Set to be ready for service in the first half of 2012, the submarine cable will provide a link to countries such as Guinea, Liberia, and Mauritania with 21 landing points along the route.

A big financial contributor to the ACE system is France Telecom with a $250 million investment. France Telecom's investment in ACE is strategic. As growth in its core European markets continues to slow, France Telecom is placing more of its bets on Africa and the Middle East as new revenue engines. After reaching a settlement with Egypt's Orascom Telecom over the ownership of mobile operator ECMS, France Telecom's new CEO Stephane Richard says that the company is "ready to pay a good price" to grow its presence in Africa.

Helping to build out the cable system is Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). For the ACE network, Alcatel-Lucent will deploy its 1620 Light Manager submarine line terminal, branching units and its 1678 Metro Core Connect in the landing points that will be located along the route.

For more:
- see the release here
- Bloomberg has this article

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