• Submarine cable systems connecting South Africa and many other African countries to Europe develop 'technical fault'.
  • The systems - WACS and SAT3/WASC - are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The cable cut is affecting MTN and likely to affect ntel customers in Nigeria.

Last week, reports emerged that two submarine cable systems connecting South Africa and many other African countries to Europe developed ‘faults’.

The systems - WACS and SAT3/WASC - are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean.

While the WACS system lands in South Africa at Yzerfontein, Western Cape, the SAT3/WASC system enters South Africa at Melkbosstrand, Western Cape, according to South Africa's infrastructure provider, Openserve.

Photo of telecom user in Accra used to illustrate the story (file photo)
Photo of telecom user in Accra used to illustrate the story (file photo)

What is the implication of the submarine break

The faults affected internet connectivity and communication channels across the continent. Customers continue to experience reduced speed on international browsing, and international voice calling and mobile roaming have also been impacted.

Most businesses running any networks connected to the systems will continue to experience slow internet processes, at least, pending all faults have been rectified.

Last Friday, Openserve said, “it had been liaising with both the WACS and SAT3/WASC undersea cable consortiums to determine the loss of service on both submarine cable systems."

Who are those affected?

MTN Nigeria apologised for network disruptions caused as a result of the submarine cable break.

Why? MTN Nigeria runs its broadband on the WACS (West African Cable System).

Apart from MTN Nigeria, ntel is also likely to be affected by the cable cut. Ntel uses SAT-3 to power its network, owned by the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), one of the assets of the defunct Nitel.

Airtel Africa runs its network on the Middle East North Africa Submarine Cable (MENA Cable) and TE North Cable Systems while Globalcom has its own undersea cable system known as GLO-1 (Globacom-1).

MainOne also owns a 7, 000-kilometer submarine cable from Europe to West Africa. The cable provides access to many local providers.

Nigerian minister says efforts on the way to resolve the cut

Isa Ali Pantami, Nigeria’s minister of communication, said efforts are on the way to resolve cut in Sat3 & WACS submarine cables.

Pantami said customers using networks on both cables will experience a sluggish internet connection. “Any customer using the same route could experience poor quality. Effort is being made to resolve the issue. Thanks!”

Minister of Communications, Dr. Ali Isa Pantami [Twitter/@DrIsaPantami]
Minister of Communications, Dr. Ali Isa Pantami [Twitter/@DrIsaPantami]

Any update and way forward?

Business Insider SSA reached out to stakeholders for an update on the submarine cables on Monday, January 20th, 2020

Openserve says cable vendors have been appointed to visit the break location and repair it.

“It is anticipated that a cable ship, that’s currently docked at Cape Town harbour, will be dispatched to attend to the repairs.

“It is important to note that even the simplest of repairs at great depths in the middle of the ocean would be quite complex. Much would depend on the wind speeds and weather conditions faced during the repair,” Openserve tells Business Insider SSA.

The South African broadband service firm said it is “in the process of diverting traffic” to minimise the impact on clients and customers.

Operators of West African Cable System are yet to respond to BISSA's enguiry at the time of filing this report.