International connectivity has been restored after a month of disrupted internet access in South Africa and other African countries following simultaneous submarine cable breaks.
Picture: Pixabay
International connectivity has been restored after a month of disrupted internet access in South Africa and other African countries following simultaneous submarine cable breaks. Picture: Pixabay

Internet connection restored after month-long disruption

By NATHAN CRAIG Time of article published Feb 21, 2020

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Durban - International connectivity has been restored after a month of disrupted internet access in South Africa and other African countries following simultaneous submarine cable breaks.

There were cable breaks on the West African Cable System (WACS) cable and the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT3/WASC) system, both of which connect South Africa to Europe along the west coast of Africa.

The breaks led to reduced international browsing speeds and impacted international voice calling and mobile roaming for South Africans.

The Leon Thevenin cable ship departed from the Cape Town Harbour on Wednesday, January 22 to tend to repairs.

Telkom’s wholesale division, Openserve, said all the faults have now been repaired and South Africans could breathe a sigh of relief.

Openserve’s senior media relations specialist, Pynee Chetty, confirmed that they had been liaising with both the WACS and SAT3/WASC undersea cable consortiums to determine the cause of the break that occurred in mid-January.

“But we do not know what caused the breaks but in the early hours of this morning, we received confirmation from ship that repairs to the portion of the SAT3/WASC off the shores of the Congo were completed. This concluded a long and complex restoration process. The ship will now proceed to its next location, offshore Ghana, to undertake a power-related repair on the WACS cable. If conditions allow, the entire mission is set to be completed around February 25 with the vessel returning to dock in Cape Town," Chetty.

Chetty said he could not confirm the total cost of the endeavour.

Arthur Goldstuck, the founder of World Wide Worx, an independent technology research and strategy organisation, speculated the breaks could have been the result of an undersea avalanche in January.

“Two hours before we experienced internet issues on  Janury 16, there was a 5.6 magnitude earthquake which led to turbidity currents that cause undersea sediment avalanches. Turbidity currents and their avalanches are some of the most common causes of cable breaks," Goldstruck said. 

SUNDAY TRIBUNE

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