Ship to fix undersea cable breaks is delayed as African tech users wait

By AT editor - 19 January 2020 at 3:31 am
Ship to fix undersea cable breaks is delayed as African tech users wait

Sub-Saharan Africa continued to report Internet and data access issues following accidental cuts of the undersea West Africa Cable System (WACS) that runs along the coast – and it looks as if there is no quick fix to a problem that began Thursday.

The TENET/NREN research-tech group in South Africa said a ship would be sent to the cable break near Congo, with repairs there expected over the weekend. But the cable vessel remained in Cape Town because of winds on Saturday, and then was waiting to load repair equipment late Monday.

“When the vessel has loaded and departed, the expected duration to location of the break is around six days. Fixing the break will take another week at least,” the group said in an update.

The 16,000-kilometer system runs from South Africa to the UK, connecting much of western and central Africa to Europe and each other. A second WACS break near the UK likely won’t be fixed until late January, TENET/NREN said, with complete system repairs expected in early February.

A second cable, the SAT3/WACS, also was damaged and unable to support rerouted traffic, with that break site believed to be near Libreville, the capital of Gabon.

“Further tests are being conducted by the upstream provider along with the cable consortium,” said Pro2Col Lab, based in South Africa. “There’s still no Estimated Time of Resolution.”

That’s left dozens of service providers scrambling to respond to complaints with thousands of Africans dealing with absent or slow service. Major outages were reported across all South African providers as well as in Democratic Republic of Congo. The cable system feeds terminals on the west coast that connect to interior locations and their service providers.

MTN said its service in Ghana and Nigeria was back up late Saturday, but that wasn’t the case everywhere and some customers in those countries continued to complain of slow service. In South Africa, some TENET/NREN partners were rerouted on the eastern SEACOM and EASSy cables.

The WACS Cable site itself was offline early Sunday, with no additional information on the service.

Image: WACS

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