Internet outage South Africa: how long will the fix take?

  • It will take at least five weeks for a vital system of West African undersea internet cables to be fixed.
  • The cables are believed to have been affected by deep ocean seismic activity which led to a widespread outage across Africa last week.
  • In South Africa, some services have returned to normal, but spotty internet issues continue for many users.

According to West African connectivity provider Main One, “seismic activity” is the leading cause believed to have broken a vital submarine internet cable system in the region’s oceans, causing a widespread internet outage that has extended into South Africa and many other African nations.

Repairs to the cables in this area could take at least five weeks before completion, according to the communications regulator in Ghana, a country also impacted by the outages. Internet watchdog NetBlocks reported that residents of the Ivory Coast were the most affected by the underbreakage, with countries like Nigeria, Lesotho and South Africa the least affected by the internet outage.

“The cable landing service providers have indicated an estimated time frame of a minimum of five weeks for full service restoration from the time the vessels are dispatched to the various locations,” the firm told Reuters on the weekend.

According to Ben Roberts, Group CTIO for Liquid Intelligent Technologies, the WACS, Main One, ACE, and SAT3 cable systems were all affected in the West Africa outage.

The outage occurred late last week, with wide reports stating that it originated in West Africa, in the oceans near the Ivory Coast. Many South Africans struggled with internet connectivity following the breakage of multiple subsea cables in the area. Large telecoms like Vodacom and even international providers like Microsoft noted the outage and apologised to customers for disruptions.

“Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable”, MainOne said, as per Reuters. It added that when repairs take place it would glean more information from the affected area.

“Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable”, MainOne said, adding it would obtain more data when the cable is retrieved during repair,” it added.

The statements come after a recent and strikingly similar disruption to subsea internet cables in the East of Africa, specifically in the Red Sea. However, the incident in the Red Sea is being blamed on attacks on ships in the area by Houthi militants. SEACOM, the company’s whose cables were specifically affected said that repairs would have to wait until it received a license to operate in the dangerous area.

Some services have returned after the outage last week. As of Monday, Microsoft is no longer reporting any disruptions to Azure in South Africa. However, local users are still noting spotty internet issues, according to DownDetector.

[Image – Photo by Dylan McLeod on Unsplash]


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