Zimbabwe’s internet crawls as undersea fibre outage enters 4th day

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Undersea CablesZimbabwean internet providers relying on the onward fibre connectivity of SEACOM and EASSy, two of Africa’s major undersea cables, are facing major problems delivering internet services to customers as the the two cables have been down for close to 4 days. According to reports, the cables were apparently severed by ship anchors between Egypt and Marseilles on the morning on Friday 22 March .

SEACOM confirmed today via posts on their website and Facebook. “SEACOM continues to work to restore transmission customers across the Mediterranean Sea” said the update on their site. There’s so far no confirmation from EASSy on what exactly is wrong on their side, but we have sent them a request for the information. So far however what is definite is that they too have been affected by the outage.

In Zimbabwe, TelOne, Liquid Telecom, Dandemutande and Africom all bring in international bandwidth via either of the undersea cables. TelOne is via EASSy and the others feed mainly from SEACOM. Another fibre operator, PowerTel gets its internet from the WACS cable along Africa’s west coast. Some of the internet brought in by these operators is further sold to other providers in the country like ZOL, YoAfrica, iWayAfrica, Africa Online, Telecontract, Econet, NetOne and Telecel.

While just SEACOM and EASSy have been affected directly by the cable outage, all operators are likely being affected as the rerouted traffic is an unexpected surge in demand.

In an email to clients today, Dandemutande CTO, Collin Franco assured clients that the company was doing all it can to deliver quality internet. “Since full repair of this fault is likely to take approximately two weeks we have procured alternative connectivity across the Mediterranean Sea using a cable system that was not affected. The cost of this alternative path will be borne by us.”  he acknowledged however that their efforts are “in a long line of activations requested by many carriers (many hundreds of Gbps) and is not progressing at the rate” they need. Franco says as a result of the delays, they are also looking for other alternative stop gap connections.

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An executive at PowerTel has told us today that they have received numerous requests from local ISPs and clients looking to have their internet supplied by the operator during this downtime. “I have numerous requests right now that I’m approving,” said the executive, “we have not been affected by the outage because our suppliers in Botswana use the WACS cable which is up and delivering normally”. The additional demand from the other providers is however likely to affect their internet quality too.

We also contacted ZOL CEO and Liquid Telecoms executive director, David Behr, and he told us that they too were operating with a loss of capacity due to the SEAMCOM problems. He explained however that Liquid already has redundant links via WACS and SAT-3 and that they are able to weather such outages by rerouting their traffic. “Fortunately Liquid Telecom and ZOL are in a unique situation in Zimbabwe thanks to the fact that we also buy capacity on the two major west coast undersea cables – WACS and SAT-3.  By operating over all 4 undersea cables we are able to mitigate against these disasters,” explained Behr. 

Behr added that as they own and operate their own cables and buy dedicated capacity directly to Europe from the undersea cable operators; “we are not reliant on having to deal with 3rd parties in the middle – giving us faster response time to these unfortunate cable breaks because we operate the end-to-end capacity ourselves.”

Contacted for comment, a TelOne executive expressed that they were not having any issues at all with their ADSL service. They however promised to find out more information from their technical department but had not come back to us by the time we hit the publish button. Several of their customers however had indicated that the service has been quite slow since Friday.

What has been your internet experience over the past few days? Has your provider communicated what the problem is and how they are fixing it? Please share in the comments below.

23 Comments

  1. macdchip says:

    Telone adsl is “working” for me…….. in its usual slow way…

  2. Telone ADSL on the platinum package has taken a huge knock as has our uMax link. Both are working but telone’s speeds are almost unusable. Lets hope all ISP’s in Zim learn from this and get hooked up to the west coast as well. Zol/Liquid and Powertel be smiling all the way to the bank during this downtime.

  3. Aurther says:

    YoAfrica has been up and down…certainly noticeably slower.

    1. David says:

      This is a bit off topic but Im just wondering how is Yo internet on a goodday? Im thinking of getting it through the outdoor wimax option as I live in an area full of tall trees. Do you really get upto the advertised 2mb/s? Im looking for something that’ll allow me to download shows, movies etc in the off peak hours.

  4. Powertel working normally.

  5. Time says:

    Well Powertel is operating as usual…as in the slow dreaded speeds most people are experienecing now across all networks and platforms, are the speeds we’re still experiencing. At least you lucky few get to go back to your fast internet once the fibre is fixed whilst powertel will keep us at broken fibre speeds.

    On a side note, I don’t get how powertel fibre can work so well, I use it at my business, but then their mobile network be so painful. You’d think with all that capacity they’d be the nations best mobile internet provider….they’ve got the pricing spot on but as for service?…Eish…

    1. macdchip says:

      If only Powertel speeds can be as “big” and good as there big bosses salaries, it will be one the best ever internet on planet earth.

      I read in Newsday that the former finance employee was on eye watering $400 000 per annum, plus a prado and all other benefits

      Just wondering how much the current is earning!! (http://www.newsday.co.zw/2013/03/25/powertel-up-in-arms-with-ex-employee/)

      Then this company have got the guts to say they dont hav money for expansion and gvt too broke to finance them.

      1. Chris Mberi says:

        This Newsday article needs to be verified because it is sending the wrong signal. No way this can be true. $33000 per month is just not feasible for Powertel and anyway the guy would not holding on to a Prado if that was the case

  6. ashley says:

    powertel extremely slow in Mutare

  7. Harare Tees says:

    that explains it, was getting really frustrated…

  8. Cell1 says:

    I was castigated on this site for simply pointing out that whilst Powertel has challenges with their mobile internet platform together with customer care and clueless employees, their optic fibre offerings are really impressive. We are using Powertel fibre at our business premises and we have not been affected at all. Im just saying………

    1. macdchip says:

      Its not affected bcoz there uplink fibre has not been cut off..

  9. jurunaj says:

    Zol is doing okay yea. didnt even feel the effects, kinda suprising coz i was just about to move to ADSL Telone. Coz ZOL and Liquid prices are kinda steep.

  10. Loyd Kambuzuma says:

    I’m using Africom Wimax, I’m not experiencing Internet bottlenecks!

    1. Time says:

      Africom Wimax?…Do share pricing…isp websites in zim are so useless or outdated!

  11. Anesu says:

    My organisation is using the platinum ADSL service from Telone and i can tell you that it is crawling and from my numerous calls to Telone ADSL deprtment they seem to be clueless as they are telling me to bring in my ADSL router modem for reconfiguring but im telling its not a configuration issue. Ding Dong!!!

  12. frustrated says:

    the problem is that Tel-one does not tell one what is going on – I was also asked to bring my modem and laptop in for checking – it was only when I saw a ZOL message on someone else’s email that I realised there was a cable problem and then picked up the details on the internet – but for this one has to have internet !!!! I spent the whole weekend phoning and asking for engineers to come to check my line, being told by Tel-one that there was no problem with the internet. Please, lets have better communication – when we know it is external and is being worked on, then we can take the time off to work off-line.

    1. salazah says:

      Here here! Tel-One engineers and bosses dont even know what is happenning. its so irritating to try and get assistance from some1 who doesnt even know there is a problem!

  13. bitchsbrew says:

    Well, Liquid fibre is working like a charm as always 🙂

  14. macdchip says:

    Today mine is soo slow, even whatsapp is feeling it.

  15. SZ says:

    TelOne not affected??? What rubbish! Although to be perfectly honest. this response is pretty consistent with what I have come to expect from TelOne – our internet has been down for almost a week now so I am at a loss to understand how they are not experiencing any problems from this. Honestly.

  16. Robert says:

    Not affacted at all.I use VSAT

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