Rejoice! The cable breaks along the west coast of Africa which left South Africans with slow internet connectivity should hopefully be repaired by today.
Initial repair delays
The issue has been ongoing since January, and repairs were initially halted due to weather conditions preventing the repair vessel from setting sail.
On 21 January, REN Alerts confirmed that the vessel was still docked, but would be able to depart the following day. While that sounded wonderful, the vessel would still take a week to reach its destination, and another week for repairs to be carried out.
Since then, SA’s main internet providers were forced to purchase additional international bandwidth to keep us connected to the rest of the world. It’s a been a tough couple of days, we’re not going to lie.
How did the cable breaks affect South Africa?
The cable breaks left South Africa with slow connectivity – or no connectivity at times – because the sea cables link all major routers of each country around the globe to both neighbouring and far-away systems.
The South Atlantic 3 cable suffered a breakdown near Libreville, Gabon. This undersea cable network connects South Africa with the Iberian countries of Portugal and Spain.
The break initially occurred when a section of the WACS system became trapped and embedded in sediment on the ocean floor caused by the flow of turbulent waters in an undersea canyon.
The West Africa Cable System, which connects SA to the United Kingdom and several coastal African Nations – was also damaged. Services were re-routed, but the internet still remains slow for many of us.
Repairs to be completed by Sunday 16 February
The first break was repaired in January when the Leon Thevenin crew eventually managed to depart after the weather settled, and a second vessel left Avon mouth Docks in England this week to repair the second break.
But that brings us to the present. Low and behold, this dark period is almost over. The Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (Tenet) confirmed on 13 February:
“The cable vessel is in progress with fault remediation activities offshore Mine head. Tentative ETR 16 February 2020. Sat-3 Congo Break: Work is progressing according to the planned schedule with an ETR of 16 February 2020”