France Telecom-Orange has today announced the launch of commercial services for LION2, the Indian Ocean’s new submarine cable.

France Telecom-Orange and the other members of the LION2 consortium – the Group’s subsidiaries Mauritius Telecom, Orange Madagascar and Telkom Kenya, as well as two other operators, Emtel Ltd and  SFR Réunion – celebrated in Mayotte today the launch of commercial services for the broadband submarine cable LION2.

This cable provides the island of Mayotte with broadband connectivity for the first time and reinforces international network connectivity for Kenya.

Following the launch of the LION (Lower Indian Ocean Network) submarine cable at the end of 2009, this new cable concludes the second phase of the Group’s plans to expand broadband internet connectivity in the Indian Ocean. The LION cable, which links Madagascar to the global broadband network via the Réunion and Mauritius islands, has now been extended to Kenya via Mayotte, with the LION2 cable.

Through its landing station at Kaweni (Mamoudzou), LION2 will provide Mayotte, for the first time, with access to a broadband internet network benefitting from a transmission capacity and service quality equivalent to those available in Europe.

In Kenya, the LION2 cable is connected through a new landing station that has been built at Nyali, close to Mombasa. This cable is particularly important for Kenya as it strengthens the country’s connectivity to international networks and covers its capacity requirements for the years to come. In addition, the new cable also provides an alternative route for passing secure broadband transmissions through Europe and Asia for all African countries in which the Group is located. By providing access to a fourth submarine cable, Kenya gains the flexibility to redirect traffic between the cables as required.

The 2,700 km long fiber-optic cable uses wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), currently the most advanced technology for submarine cables. This technology enables cable capacity, which currently offers a maximum potential capacity of 1.28 Tbps, to be increased without additional submarine work.

The construction of the LION2 cable represents a total investment of around 57 million euros, about 38 million euros of which will come from France Telecom SA and its subsidiaries.

Through the development of its submarine networks, France Telecom-Orange is helping to build a high quality global network. The cables constitute broadband arteries that give the Group high-performance tools at controlled cost to meet growing demand from its customers.

As such, they are a key asset for the Group’s objective of providing widespread internet access (narrowband and broadband) in Africa, where it is present in around twenty countries. As part of this approach, France Telecom-Orange is also actively involved in the deployment of the ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) cable, which follows the west coast of Africa.