French telco Orange is going to deploy a new subsea cable connecting France to Tunisia.

The company this week announced it had obtained a grant from the EU’s "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF) program to build a 1,050 km cable from Marseille to Bizerte.

pierre-de-fermat cable ship orange marine
– Orange Marine

Commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2025; the cable is set to offer ‘several fiber pairs’, each with 20 Tbps of capacity. The cost of the project wasn’t shared.

Update: It seems the cable is actually part of the Medusa cable system, with Orange Tunisia and Medusa Submarine Cable System announcing a deal on May 11 to deploy a submarine cable linking Tunisia (Bizerte) to France (Marseilles). Implementation is scheduled for the end of 2025.

“We are very happy to have for the first time obtained the support of the European CEF program for the realization of this ambitious project. We are delighted to put our unique know-how in the field of intercontinental submarine cables at the service of the development of strategic infrastructures between Europe and Africa,” said Michaël Trabbia, CEO of Orange Wholesale.

Trabbia had been Interim CEO of Orange Wholesale since September 2022, and took the role on a permanent basis this month.

Orange has a cable landing station (CLS) in Marseille in Bonneveine that hosts the India-Middle East-Western Europe (IMEWE) cable. That cable entered service in 2010.

In December, it was announced that the AFR-IX-owned Medusa cable would be landing at Orange’s CLS in Marseille. Announced in January 2022, Medusa will connect Lisbon and Sines, Portugal to Port Said, Egypt with additional landings in Barcelona, Torreguadiaro, Zahara, and Alacant in Spain; Tétouan and Nador in Morocco; Bizerte in Tunisia; Algiers and Collo in Algeria; Marseille in France; Mazara del Vallo in Italy; Yeroskipou in Cyprus; and Tympaki in Greece.

Marseille is a landing point for more than a dozen existing and in-development cables, including 2Africa, Africa-1, the Peace cable, and SeaMeWe-4.

Bizerte is currently the landing point for the SeaMeWe-4 cable. As well as Medusa, the PCCW-led Europe-Asia Peace cable is set to land there in partnership with Ooredoo Tunisia.

Tunisia’s other landing point is in Kelibia, which lands the Didon (owned by Orange and Ooredoo), Hannibal, and Trapani-Kelibia cable systems. All three cross the Strait of Sicily to land at Mazara del Vallo on the Italian island of Sicily.

"We are particularly pleased that Bizerte is hosting this new submarine cable, a strategic and ambitious project for Orange Tunisia which we are carrying out with our partner Medusa. It will eventually allow better accessibility to the Internet, making the digital world more inclusive and more focused on the fundamental needs of the Tunisian population and economy," said Thierry Millet, CEO of Orange Tunisia.

Norman Albi, CEO of Medusa Submarine Cable System, added: "We are very proud to finalize this agreement with Orange Tunisia which will link the Medusa submarine cable to Bizerte and transform the northernmost region of the continent into a new gateway to Africa. Right from the start of this great project, we were committed to making Bizerte a major landing point, convinced that Orange Tunisia will develop this new infrastructure and promote its strategic location for the interconnection of Tunisia and beyond, from the continent. This new step demonstrates Medusa’s commitment to lead and to encourage the long-term development of essential infrastructure in this region of the continent."

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