East Africa undersea cable outage enters third week

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East African Undersea CablesIt’s now week 3 since it was first reported that an undersea fibre cable on the shores of East Africa was down. Then, it was reported that the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) had broken on 17 February 2012 and that a repair vessel had been sent to fix the problem. Eventually it became clear the situation was worse.

About a week later, it emerged a ship dropping anchor off the coast of Kenya had severed the EASSy cable and two other major cables as well; the Europe India Gateway (EIG) and The East African Marine System (TEAMs). (see correction below)

The severed cables caused severe slowdown in internet traffic and intermittent performance of links in East and Southern Africa.  Countries affected include Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Chris Wood, the WIOCC chief executive has called the situation a very unusual one. WIOCC is the majority shareholder in EASSy, currently the single largest undersea cable on the shores of Africa. WIOCC and TEAMs have both indicated repairs will take up to three weeks.

In Zimbabwe, internet users and ISPs served by the country’s fixed line operator, TelOne, have been experiencing intermittent internet services since the EASSy cable broke. TelOne is part of the WIOCC consortium that has ownership in EASSy. Other internet providers using alterative international cables like SEACOM have however not been affected.

Our sources tell us Liquid Telecom and PowerTel, the other two international bandwidth resellers in Zimbabwe, have not been affected by the EASSy outage or the increased load on SEACOM due to traffic from the failed cables that’s been rerouted to it.

We have sent communication to TelOne to get the extent of disruption that the EASSy outage has caused but we’re yet to get the information.

Correction: We’ve just received communication from Gillian Koech (WIOCC Marketing) with information correcting our original story this morning. Here’s the correction:

EASSy cable was NOT cut off Mombasa. Only the TEAMS cable was cut – 5km from Mombasa. The EASSy cable is functioning normally from Mombasa.

EASSy did, however, suffer a cut on February 17th between Djibouti and Port Sudan. The cut to the EASSy cable only affects the section of cable between Port Sudan and Djibouti. The rest of the cable is working perfectly and due to the collapsed loop network configuration (“collapsed ring” protection mechanism) and the impact on customers has been minimal. A second reason why the cut to EASSy did not have much impact on customers is because the vast majority of EASSy traffic exits Africa through Djibouti, and the cut happened to the north of Djibouti. EIG cable was also cut just north of Djibouti.

The map image has been extracted from a map on manypossibilities.net

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  • Nairobi2

    This article is incorrect. Neither the EASSY cable or the EIG cable has been cut off the coast of Kenya – just the TEAMS cable was affected by the dropped anchor. EASSy is operating normally out of Kenya.

  • http://www.techzim.co.zw L.S.M. Kabweza

    Thanks @1ee5165d2efa27dfb01707e804372ddf:disqus 
    The article was prepared from compilations of reports on the matter which all confirm three cables were cut. There however seems to be confusion on  where exactly this happened and when it did:- 
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201202220699.html 
    - http://www.npr.org/2012/03/01/147752412/damaged-undersea-cable-cripples-internet-in-east-africa
    - http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=56BA80C8-A2C9-C284-8E293229D1A450C5- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/28/east_africa_undersea_cables_cut/- http://nehandaradio.com/2012/02/28/zimbabwean-internet-hit-by-ship-accidents/- http://www.telegeography.com/products/commsupdate/articles/2012/02/29/east-africa-loses-broadband-as-four-submarine-cables-are-severed-in-quick-succession/

    - if you have more information that clears up the confusion, please kindly provide.

  • Nairobi 1

    L.S.M Kabwezi, correct information for clarity has been sent to the following email addresses ‘admin@techzim.co.zw’; ‘news@techzim.co.zw’. Afford us your direct email address and we will provide the correct information to you.

  • http://www.velosinsurance.co.uk/ Marine Insurance

    Yes I heard it was the internet cables and Teams cables as well on the 25th of Feb and that the ship dropped its anchor in a non-designated area.

  • Realpolitech

    The only real way to verify what is happening is to get the name of the cable repair vessels. Has anyone found that information.

  • Realpolitech

    Also which ship drops it anchor. That company should be billed for the cost of this mess! Excuse me not the company but the companies insurance provider.