2Africa, a subsea cable project funded by Facebook and several telcos, will become the longest subsea cable system ever deployed by the time it's finished. The social network has announced that the consortium of companies behind the initiative has decided to add a new segment to the structure called 2Africa Pearls, which will connect Africa, Europe and Asia.
When Facebook first announced the project, it said 2Africa will lay down 37,000 km (22,990 miles) of cables on the ocean floor. Last month, the company also announced that the consortium is extending the cable's reach to four more branches in Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, Angola and the south-eastern part of Nigeria. This new segment would bring its total length to over 45,000 km or 28,000 miles.
As its name implies, the 2Africa initiative's goal is to provide internet connectivity to people living in Africa, which is currently the least connected continent. This extension adds landing sites in India (Mumbai), Pakistan (Karachi), Oman (Salalah and Barakah), UAE (Kalba and Abu Dhabi), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manamah), Iraq (AlFaw), Kuwait (Kuwait) and in Saudi Arabia (Khobar).
In Facebook's announcement, Kevin Salvadori, the company's VP of networking infrastructure, said the full structure would serve more people than the consortium first intended. While the original 2Africa project was only meant to provide connectivity to 1.2 billion people, the addition of Pearls would allow the cable to serve a total of 3 billion people. He wrote:
"The past 18 months have highlighted the importance of connectivity as billions of people around the world rely on the internet to work, attend school, and stay connected to people they care about. We continue to invest in subsea cables in Africa and beyond, as communities and businesses flourish when there is widely accessible internet."