TEAMS (cable system)
(The East African Marine System)
Government of Kenya; Etisalat; private investors
|Total length||4,500 km|
|Design capacity||40 Gb/s (upgradeable to 640 Gb/s)|
|Currently lit capacity||n/a|
|Date of first use||April 2009|
TEAMS (The East African Marine System) is an initiative spearheaded by the government of Kenya to link the country to the rest of the world through a submarine fibre optic cable. It was first proposed as an alternative to EASSy, the East African Submarine Cable System. The Kenyan government had grown frustrated with the ownership model favoured by South Africa, the time it was taking and what it perceived as an attempt by South Africa to control the cable. As a result, in November 2006, the Kenyan government decided to partner with the Emirates Telecommunication Establishment (Etisalat) to build its own fibre optic cable.
Although the Kenyan government has decided to pursue their own fibre optic cable, they are still committed to EASSy.
On October 11, 2007, Alcatel-Lucent were awarded the $82 million contract to lay the cable. Construction began in January 2008 on the Emirates' side.
On 25 February 2012 the TEAMS cable was accidentally cut by a ship anchored off the coast of Mombasa. The repairs were expected to take about 3 weeks. Some ISPs, automatically including those multi-homed were able to re-route traffic through the SEACOM cable system or other global connections, but more than half of the networks in Kenya and Uganda were affected. The impact of the break was made worse because TEAMS was itself carrying re-routed EASSy traffic after three cables experienced breaks in the Red Sea on February 17 - Europe India Gateway, SEA-ME-WE 3, and the EASSy.
On 27 April 2012 the TEAMS cable was accidentally cut again only 35 days after it was fixed from the previous break.
The TEAMS cable was originally designed to have an initial capacity of 40 Gb/s upgradeable to 640 Gbit/s should the initial capacity be insufficient. The project has since exercised an option in the Construction & Maintenance Agreement (CMA) to increase the capacity to 1.2 Tb/s of which 120 Gbit/s will be initial capacity at project start. Excess bandwidth will be absorbed for use by the Kenyan government if demand from private operators does not meet expectations.
Currently, East Africa is the only region in the world that has neither intra-African nor direct international cable network access. The region instead relies on expensive satellite communication. Data costs in the country are among the highest in the World with costs of up to $7000 per megabit of bandwidth. The cable is expected to reduce costs to below $500 per megabit, although UUNET Kenya believes this drastic drop in price to be overestimated and that price drops will only occur once other cables, namely SEACOM and EASSy, are completed to create price competition between them.
A number of regional governments and private sector investors have shown interest in the project. Governments interested in purchasing bandwidth are Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
Kenya hopes to become a bigger player in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) as India has done in the recent past. Kenya's nascent call center business has grown from employing 200 people in the year 2006 to 3,000 this year, despite relying on expensive satellite-based communications. Kenya's Ministry of Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo has said that in order for the BPO sector to compete, the government must increase its bandwidth to 500 megabits per second by the end of the year (2007) and subsidize costs until the cable is completed.
Ownership of the cable is as follows:
- 15% - Etisalat (UAE)
- 85% - TEAMs (Kenya) Ltd
TEAMS (Kenya) Ltd consists of:
- 20% - Government of Kenya (through Min. of Finance)
- 20% - Safaricom Ltd
- 20% - Telkom Kenya Ltd
- 10% - Kenya Data Networks Ltd
- 10% - Econet/Essar Telecom Ltd
- 5% - Wananchi Group
- 3.75% - Jamii Telecom Ltd
- 1.25% - Broadband Access/AccessKenya Ltd
- 1.25% - Africa Fibrenet (Uganda) Ltd
- 1.25% - InHand Ltd
- 1.25% - iQuip Ltd
- 1.25% - Flashcom Ltd
See also 
- BBC News - Ship's anchor slows down East African web connection
- "Ship Accidents Sever Data Cables Off East Africa". 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-04-10.