Yesterday we all got very excited! Telkom took us to the SAT3 Landing Station. Kids in a sweet shop!

Tim (CEO aka Big Chief), Ru (COO aka Chief Ru), Alan (Engineering Manager aka Network Boss), Kevin (Development Manager aka Neo), Paul (Finance Manager aka Money Man) and myself (just me) headed out to Melkbos to gain some exclusive access to the SAT3 Landing Station.

Camera ready to go, we arrived and were treated to an interesting presentation around how the cables are laid, where they land and how they are repaired, along with a whole lot of techie network-speak which I think only Alan understood.

Time for the viewing, wow – what a treat!

Some key features of the Landing Station are:

  • Everything is duplicated, for failover
  • SAT1, SAT2, SAT3 as well as SAFE all land in Melkbos
  • The SAT3 cable is buried just 2m below the sand on Melkbos beach
  • AIS (Automatic Identification System) is used along the entire cable
  • The SAT3 cable is 14 350km long, with endpoints in Spain and Cape Town
  • Generators have enough diesel to run for up to 2 weeks without being refilled

Below are some pictures of the Landing Station’s key points. It’s amazing to see that the entire SAT3 cable in its full 340Gb/s glory is only 4 fibre optic cables. Similar thickness to a cable tie.

We were also treated to the SAFE datacentre which is the redundant cable running along the East coast of Africa. The Melkbos station holds the NOC centre for SAT3 as well as SAFE.

In all my excitement, I unfortunately didn’t grab any pics of the SAT1 equipment which mostly looked analogue… amazing how things have changed!

We also enjoyed a fantastic lunch with Telkom at Melkbos, thanks guys – the day was truly fascinating.

Wished there was more time to see the WACS station up in Yzerfontein too. I guess there’s always another day. TechCentral have some pictures, so head over and read their article.

Once again, thanks to Telkom for arranging this fantastic tour of the SAT3 Landing Station, absolutely awesome to see where our internet goes!

Further technical reading can be found on the official SAT3 website.