How Marseille Became a Global Internet Hotspot

Marseille today plays a major role in the global Internet. Since the beginning of November, the metropolis has been connected to a new submarine cable, 2Africa. With a length of 45,000 km, it is the longest submarine fiber ever laid in the world. This new installation takes the city of Marseille to seventh in the world for Internet hubs (an interconnection of several underwater fibers).

Increase internet bandwidth

The 2Africa cable was installed by an international consortium of seven companies: Meta, China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and finally WIOCC. 33 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia are connected to the Web through this new connection. The main goal was to bring greater bandwidth (current throughput) and better redundancy to Africa. In total and in the long term, three billion people should benefit from this new fiber according to Meta.

2 Thus, Africa should benefit from the faster development of the Internet in Africa. “The contract was signed in March 2020. The eastern part of the Mediterranean will be operational during the first half of 2023, the western part will be in the first half of 2024. It will increase the bandwidth in Africa and deploy uses of cloud and digital systems with much greater reliability, security and speed than today”explains Cynthia Perret, director of the 2Africa cable program at Digital Factory.

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A strategic geographical point

With more than 16 pairs of optical fibers, the submarine cable will be able to transmit no less than 180 terabits of data every second. A technological breakthrough that will power 46 landing stations worldwide. Due to its geographical position, Marseille is a strategic internet point in Europe. In general, France is the main gateway for fibers to Europe from other continents.

“Submarine cables are the foundation of the global Internet, connecting people and continents. I am convinced that they will play a key role in the current development of Europe and other continents. 2Africa will be the longest submarine cable ever laid, serving communities that depend on the Internet for services such as education, health and business activities.welcomed Meta’s Southern European Vice President, Laurent Solly.

A critical infrastructure

Worldwide, about 530 submarine cables provide 95% of the global Internet. A critical infrastructure closely monitored by States to avoid any sabotage. As remembered The cross, several fibers have been the target of mysterious cuttings recently in France. During the night of October 17-18, part of the backbone fiber connecting Marseille and the north of the European continent was severed near Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône).

Earlier, in April, three fibers connected in the capital were sabotaged, with a difference of 20 minutes. “Without ruling out the hypothesis of an attack carried out by activists or contractors in retaliation for unpaid bills, this act (…) raises the possibility of an action originating from a hostile power that wants to test the durability of our infrastructure.”, analyzed Serge Besanger, professor at the Graduate School of Foreign Trade (ESCE), quoted by our colleagues. The arrival of the 2Africa fiber should thus lead to the strengthening of Internet security in France and in Europe.

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