Undersea cable repair could take up to a week

By Lisa Isaacs for IOL 

As gale-force winds let up slightly in Cape Town on Monday, the ship expected to effect repairs to underwater cables that failed and left parts of the continent with slow Internet, departed from Cape Town Harbour.

Strong winds battered the Cape over the past few days, trapping the cable repair ship due to effect repairs on the West Africa Cable System (WACS).

The South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) undersea fibre cable was damaged near Libreville, Gabon, while WACS was damaged near the Congolese coast, causing slow Internet speeds across parts of Africa since last Thursday.

South African social media users reported problems with MTN’s and Vodafone’s networks.

The SA National Research and Education Network (SA NREN) tweeted yesterday afternoon that the cable vessel was finally on its way to the cable depot quay.

“The weather situation in Cape Town has improved and the port reopened. The cable vessel expects to shift to the cable depot quay.”

When the vessel has loaded and departed, the expected duration to the location of the break is around six days.

Fixing the break will take another week at least, according to the SA NREN.

Internet service provider Afrihost, in a network status update yesterday, said it had purchased additional international bandwidth on other undersea cables to restore internet services to as close to normal as possible.

“This means that we will not be reliant on repairs to the damaged cables to deliver better international speeds and latency.

“Our team is currently working through the night to implement the additional capacity this evening or early tomorrow morning.”

At the weekend, web company Amphibic Design said: “Service providers are diverting traffic through another undersea cable, SEACOM/EASSY, which runs alongside the eastern coast of Africa.

“This ensures that South Africans can still access the internet, but it is also slowing internet access. It is unclear when the cables will be operational again.

Both the WACS and SAT3 cables providing international connectivity between South Africa and international locations were knocked out on Thursday.

These breaks are having a major impact on internet connectivity.

The WACS cable lands in South Africa at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape and the SAT3/WASC system enters the country at Melkbosstrand.

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