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 by a new submarine cable, 2Africa. At 45,000 km long, it is the longest marine fiber ever deployed in the world. This new installation propels the Marseille city to the seventh rank in the world for Internet hubs (an interconnection of several underwater fibers).

An increase in 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 via this new connection. The primary goal was to bring greater bandwidth (actual 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.

2Africa should thus benefit the faster development of the Internet in Africa. “The contract was signed in March 2020. The eastern part of the Mediterranean will be commissioned during the first half of 2023, the western part will be in the first half of 2024. It will increase the bandwidth on the Africa and to deploy new uses and digital systems with much greater reliability, security and speed than today”explains Cynthia Perret, director of the 2Africa cable program at The 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 feat that will supply 46 landing stations around the world. Due to its geographical position, Marseille is therefore a strategic Internet point in Europe. More generally, France is the main gateway for fibers into 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 undersea cable ever deployed, serving communities that depend on the internet for services such as education, health and business activities”welcomed the vice-president of Southern Europe of Meta, Laurent Solly.

A critical infrastructure

Around the world, nearly 530 submarine cables provide 95% of the global Internet. A critical infrastructure closely monitored by the States in order to avoid any sabotage. As reminded The cross, several fibers have been the target of mysterious cuts recently in France. During the night of October 17 to 18, part of the Backbone fiber linking Marseille and the north of the European continent had been severed near Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône).

Earlier, in April, three connected fibers in the capital were also sabotaged, 20 minutes apart. “Without excluding the hypothesis of an attack carried out by activists or contractors in retaliation for unpaid invoices, this act (…) raises the possibility of an action emanating from an enemy power wishing to test the resilience 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 reinforcement of the security of the Internet in France and in Europe.

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How Marseille Became a Global Internet Hotspot


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