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SA Internet all back online

More than a month after simultaneous breaks in undersea cables disrupted South Africa’s Internet connectivity, repairs have been completed.



Telkom’s wholesale division Openserve announced this morning that the main undersea cables connecting South Africa to the global Internet has been fully repaired. This means that South Africa’s international connectivity, which was disrupted by simultaneous breaks in the cables on 16 January 2020, has been fully restored.

In the early hours of this morning, at approximately 01:30, says Openserve, it received confirmation from aboard cable ship Leon Thevenin that the portion of the SAT3/WASC repair offshore Congo has now been completed. This concludes a long and complex restoration process of an unprecedented simultaneous cable break of two Atlantic Ocean based submarine cable systems – the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT3/WASC) and the West African Cable System (WACS).

This catastrophe caused South African internet users reduced speed on international browsing and impacted international voice calling and mobile roaming.

The Maintenance and Operations Sub-Committees of both cable consortia had tasked their respective restoration processes to a single Chief of Mission on the Leon Thevinin.  The vessel departed Cape Town Harbour on the evening of Wednesday, 22 January, after stormy weather had delayed its departure. Since then, it has been out on open water effecting the repair processes, at multiple break locations. 

The ship will now proceed to its next location, offshore Ghana, to undertake a power-related (shunt fault) repair on the WACS cable. This fault is not affecting traffic on WACS. If conditions allow, says Openserve, the entire mission is still set to be completed around 25 February with the vessel returning to dock in Cape Town.

In the early stages of the repair mission, Openserve’s Global Capacity team concluded commercial deals with several parties as a measure to minimise some of the impact on its network, and that of its clients. As part of its internal close-out procedure, Openserve says the relevant teams will, over the next few weeks, analyse the full impact of this unusual dual break on its international connectivity capacity. This exercise will be conducted with a view to minimising, and possibly mitigating, the impact on the South African broadband eco-system should the country find itself dealing with a similar catastrophic event in future.