•The Story Of GLO 1 Submarine Cable
In life, there are things we take for granted. As we continue to make heavy usage of our internet data daily to surf the web, make social media postings, stream audio and video as well as multifarious other usages, we have easily forgotten that not too far ago, these were not possible. It was not only because Instagram, Youtube or Netflix were not available at that time, it was simply because the cost of data usage at the rate of usage for an ordinary man uses it now would have been so prohibitive.
We also take for granted that when we receive a call, even from the United States or Europe, we immediately recognize the voice of people we know. Thus was not possible just a few years ago, when dropped calls were the order of the day and call clarity, utopian.
It goes that sometime around the end of the 2000s and the start of the last decade, the Chairman of Globacom, Otunba Dr Mike Adenuga was on a business trip to France. Flanked by a top official of leading equipment suppliers, Alcatel, he tried to put a call through to Nigeria. Unfortunately, the call quality was nothing to write home, sorry, call home about.
The Guru, as his business partners refer to Dr. Adenuga as a result of his flawless business acumen, wondered aloud about the permanent solution to the poor international call quality in Nigeria. The Alcatel CEO told him that the only solution was to lay a submarine cable all the way from Europe to Nigeria. Dr Adenuga there and then told him to give him the best of submarine cables.
The Alcatel-Lucent official looked at The Guru with mouth agape in “I hope he isn’t joking” manner? This was because never in the history of mankind has one man singlehandedly financed a trans-Atlantic fibre optic submarine cable. Not an American, not a Canadian, Not a Chinese, not an Australian. Yet, here is one man, a Nigerian, telling the multinational company on the spur of the moment to lay a submarine cable across the Atlantic.
The Alcatel official shouldn’t have been surprised; in fact, the surprise should be that the Alcatel CEO was surprised. Perhaps he forgot the pedigree of Dr Adenuga, the man who delivered Nigerians from the hands of the network operators when they told us that per-second billing was impossible. An innovator, who has always through his company, Globacom been at the forefront of introducing numerous innovative services that only one copy of this magazine will not be able to cover into the country before other operators even dreamt about it. He probably knew that Dr Adenuga breaks grounds but didn’t know he will break grounds even if it is under the ocean.
The CEO of Alcatel-Lucent could be forgiven because; the idea and magnitude of the Glo 1 project as the submarine cable was later christened, was simply breathtaking. The NITEL SAT-3 submarine cable which existed at that time and served the data needs of Nigeria was epileptic, yet it was financed by the governments of 36 countries, including Nigeria. Here was one man “threatening” to bankroll an intercontinental submarine cable. The transmission capacity is able to radically change Africa’s economic landscape by providing unprecedented high-speed internet. It was history in the making.
Well, The Guru cleared his doubt, like they say here and work subsequently began on the cable. Spanning over 9,800 km, the Glo 1 submarine cable landed on 16 points in Europe, North and West Africa. Landing points of the cable included United Kingdom, Portugal, Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Mauritania as well as in Lagos and Bonny. Landing points were also extended to other West African countries and there are 18 branching units
The Submarine Cable subsequently landed at its landing station at Alpha Beach at Lagos on September 5th, 2009. We still remember that boat cruise on “Lady Monica” as we went to have a firsthand experience of how it was being laid by a ship called “Intrepid’ as it headed to the next landing station in Ghana. Earlier that day, Alcatel officials handed the Alpha Beach landing station to Globacom. The cable later landed in Ghana to the excitement of the Ghanaian government and people. Their economy has never been the same.
Encapsulating a very long story, Glo 1 was officially launched in Lagos on Thursday, October 21, 2010, in the presence of then-Senate President, David Mark and about 5 governors, including then host governor, Babatunde Fashola and Edo State, governor, Adams Oshimole. They were effusive with praise for the Guru and marveled at how one man was able to achieve such a feat. Oshiomole was so impressed at the position of Globacom as a change agent that he called Adenuga a business militant.
The launch of Glo 1 which was integrated with the over 10, 000 km nationwide optic fibre cable of Globacom was the beginning of the end of exorbitant internet subscription rates in Nigeria as Globacom began to offer the most affordable internet services in Nigeria. Other operators began to play catch-up and became a boon for subscribers.
Most importantly, Nigerians began to enjoy services which were alien to this part of the world, including, Tele-Medicine, and Video Conferencing. It is easy to take video calls for granted today, but it was a big deal by that time. With a capacity of up to 2.5 terabits per second, as well as 99.9% uptime reliability, customers were assured of much faster, more reliable and cheaper internet services. There were attractive rates and long term partnerships resulting in enhanced profitability for the customer through flexible terms of contracts tailor-made for customer type and need.
The multimillion-dollar mega submarine cable began to sell access to other telecommunications companies, oil companies, banks and several other organizations across the land, including, PCCW Airtel Nigeria and Airtel Ghana as well as Shell Petroleum Development Company, Total Elf, Chevron, Agip, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Exon Mobil and TransOcean. , C & W (Nigeria & Ghana Operations ) IPNX, Swift Networks, United Bank for Africa, Fin Bank, Nigeria Bottling Co. PLC, P&G and media companies.
Imagine paying N15, 000 for 1Gb of data. Remember that the currency has been devalued multiple times since 2010 and there has been inflation. Hence, it is more or less like paying between N25 000 – N30, 000 for 1 Gb of data today. That was what obtained before the launch of Glo 1 which forced internet subscription rates to come crashing down.
Meanwhile, Globacom is working on Glo 2, which will be the first submarine cable to land outside Lagos, taking it all the way to the South with the capacity to branch out into several other countries.
Like the refrain on the evening Glo 1 was launched in 2010, no one else can do this.