LION Cable Links Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion

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The LION (Lower Indian Ocean Network) cable inauguration by Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam over the weekend marked a milestone in the history of telecommunications and ICT in the Indian Ocean.

This submarine fiber cable system links Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion Island. It is some 1,070 kilometers in length and consists of 2 fiber pairs. It's designed for a total bandwidth capacity of 1.28T bps (bits per second), but for a start, capacity will be 20G bps.

Mauritius Telecom has invested €8 million (US$10.8 million) in the project, out of a total estimated cost of €37 million. The link inaugurated by Ramgoolam in terre-Rouge, Mauritius, a few days ago marks the completion of the first phase of the project. The second phase was initiated a month ago and will see the cable extended to Mombasa (Kenya) with landings in Mayotte (Comores archipelago) and Seychelles. France Telecom has also an important stake in this project.

To reach Europe and other destinations, the LION cable is linked to the SAFE cable and will be connected to the EASSy and the East African Marine System (TEAMs) cable when they are operational.

This cable will make it possible for Mauritius to benefit from additional capacity to connect to the rest of the world and will eliminate the "single point of failure" of having only one landing station. The island off the west coast of Madagascar was linked only to the SAFE cable.

The LION cable brings resiliency to the country's connections and makes it more attractive to investors. Mauritius positions itself as an important BPO (business process outsourcing) destination for the French and English-speaking markets.

"The ITES sector consists mainly of BPO enterprises and call centres," explains Appalsamy Thomas, chairman of the board of directors of Mauritius Telecom. "The international bandwidth capacity they require is growing at a very fast pace. In 2005 the capacity used was 50M bps. The capacity has increased to 220M bps in 2009 and is expected to reach 400M bps in 2012."

But this project means even more for Madagascar that also wants to position itself on the BPO market. Until now, its major problem was the absence of any connection to a fiber cable. Thanks to LION, it will be able to speed up its bandwidth and have an easy access to the rest of the world.

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