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Connectivity

Liquid, Project Taara beam broadband across Congo River

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Kinshasa residents should be able to access more affordable high-speed connectivity after Liquid Intelligent Technologies has found a way to build a high-capacity communications bridge across the Congo River.

Liquid said it is using Wireless Optical Communication technology (WOC) from Project Taara at X, Alphabet's moonshot factory, which will make a huge difference to the connectivity available to residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) capital.

In a blog post, the director of engineering for Taara, Baris Erkmen, has confirmed that working with Liquid, Taara recently helped bridge "a particularly stubborn connectivity gap" between Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo and Kinshasa in the DRC.

"Separated by the Congo River, the world's deepest and second fastest river, Brazzaville and Kinshasa are only 4.8 kilometers apart – yet connectivity is five times more expensive in Kinshasa because the fiber connection has to travel more than 400 km to route around the river," Erkmen wrote.

This is because the Congo River makes it very difficult to lay fiber across it and historically this challenge has resulted in operators directing traffic through their respective cable landing stations over 400 kms away to create high-capacity information flow between them.

A Google Maps view of Kinshasa and Brazzaville separated by the Congo river.
A Google Maps view of Kinshasa and Brazzaville separated by the Congo river.

Central African strategy

As part of a larger initiative to improve broadband access across Central Africa, Liquid has been trying to close this strategic connection over the river for over two years.

"Now, using innovative technology from Project Taara's Wireless Optical Communication links, Liquid was able to create this connection and accomplish this feat in just a few days," the company said in a statement.

"This high-capacity link is expected to bring down the cost of broadband access for millions of people, and a second optical link provides redundancy and resilience to this critical segment of Liquid's network."

In the same way, traditional fiber uses light to carry data through cables in the ground, Taara's Wireless Optical Communication links use narrow, invisible beams of light to deliver high-speed connectivity.

"Our work with Taara has allowed us to use WOC technology to provide cost-effective, high-speed connectivity to the people in the two cities. Thus, ensuring that Liquid can enable economic prosperity by creating a connected future across the African continent despite the difficult terrain," said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.

Capable of transmitting up to 20Gbps each, Taara's links across the Congo River will help the 17 million people in these cities have access to much faster and more reliable connectivity.

Taara's Wireless Optical Communication tech in use.
Taara's Wireless Optical Communication tech in use.

Erkmen said that after installing Taara's links to beam connectivity over the river, the link served nearly 700TB of data - the equivalent of watching a FIFA World Cup match in HD 270,000 times - in 20 days with 99.9% availability.

"We're delighted to be helping bring more affordable and reliable internet access to people in Kinshasa. Taara's mission is to expand global access to fast, affordable internet and we're proud to be supporting Liquid in their mission to close the connectivity gap between these two cities," said Bhavesh Mistry, the head of Project Taara in Africa.


Want to know more about connectivity in Africa? Check out our dedicated Connectivity content channel here on Connecting Africa.


Liquid is on a mission to better connect Central Africa and in July also announced a partnership with Facebook to build an extensive long haul and metro fiber network in the DRC which will connect to the planned 2Africa undersea cable.

The fiber network will help connect East and West Africa by land and Liquid says it is expected to improve Internet access for more than 30 million people and help meet growing demand for regional connectivity across Central Africa.

Liquid is present in more than 20 countries in Africa and this year reached a major milestone, passing 100,000 km of fiber in Africa.

Related posts:

*Top image is a Google Maps view of Kinshasa and Brazzaville separated by the Congo river.

*Top image source: Project Taara blog post .

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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