Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), Elettra, Medusa and Orange have announced the coming into operation of the construction contract for the Medusa Submarine Cable System, which, when complete, will span a distance of more than 8,700km, making it the longest cable in the Mediterranean Sea and providing enhanced North-South and East-West connectivity.
Medusa will establish crucial connections between Morocco, Portugal, Spain, France, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. The subsystem, named Via Tunisia, part of the Medusa Cable linking France and Tunisia, is co-funded by the European Union under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme, as already announced by Orange, as well as African internet service provider AFR-IX Telecom.
The network is part of a commitment to reducing the digital divide that exists in the region, and the construction is seen as an important step towards achieving this goal.
By connecting North Africa and Southern Europe, as well as several of the Mediterranean islands to the mainland, including Sicily, Crete and Cyprus, the Medusa submarine cable system will create what the consortium members said will be “unprecedented opportunities” for collaboration, innovation and economic development. It will also look to provide an effective bridge between the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions, facilitating increased communication and cooperation across all these areas.
The technical infrastructure system is built on 24-pair fibre optic open cable technology to meet increasing broadband requirements in the region, with 20Tbps minimum capacity per fibre pair. The construction is being led by ASN and marine construction project specialists Elettra, and the latter will engage survey operations, while equipment manufacturing and installation are planned to span over 2024 and 2025. Orange will provide landing infrastructures in France, Tunisia and Morocco.
“We have been working for more than three years to reach this point, and we are tremendously grateful to all those who, from the early stages, supported Medusa: collaborating companies and European institutions,” said Medusa CEO Norman Albi. “Thanks to the support of North African Operators, financial institutions and leading companies such as ASN, Elettra Tlc, Orange and AFR-IX Telecom, Medusa will be in service in the fourth quarter of 2025.”
ASN chief sales and marketing officer Paul Gabla said: “The Medusa submarine cable system marks a major step forward in telecommunications infrastructure. ASN is honoured to be at the forefront of this ambitious project, which will bring high-speed internet connectivity and seamless communication to the region, unlocking a world of opportunities for businesses, communities and individuals throughout the Mediterranean region.”
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The Medusa cable is expected to reach Marseille during the last quarter of 2024. The system will be ready for service by the end of 2024 for the western Mediterranean region and the first half of 2025 for the eastern part of the Mediterranean. In preparation, Orange said it is strengthening its submarine cable access strategy in the city, with an urban infrastructure that will increase the resilience and diversity of access and landing points by connecting the city’s datacentres.
The operator believes that not only is it the leading submarine cable landing party in Marseille, but also the only operator to have a scalable infrastructure in the area as well as all the technical expertise required to land and maintain intercontinental submarine cable systems.
“Orange is delighted to put its leadership and industry expertise in the construction of this new system that will foster digital exchanges between Europe and North Africa, and to welcome Medusa into its carrier-neutral infrastructures in Marseille,” said Aurélien Vigano, vice-president of international transmission networks at Orange.