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Connectivity

WACS, SAT-3 undersea cable breaks slow SA's Internet

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South Africa has been experiencing slow Internet after the West Africa Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT–3) undersea cables broke down on Sunday.

According to reports by local publication MyBroadband, the breaks were reportedly caused by a rock fall in the Congo Canyon.

Based on the distance measured using the Coherent Optical Time Domain Reflectometer, the breaks occurred between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

The SAT-3 fault happened on Sunday August 6, 2023, in the morning, while WACS went down later that evening.

SAT-3, the older of the two cables, carries relatively little international Internet traffic. On the other hand, WACS is a more recent cable system and is used extensively to carry traffic between South Africa and Europe.

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) undersea cables were both hit by faults on Sunday August 6, 2023, causing slow Internet speeds in South Africa.   (Source: Image by Freepik).
The West Africa Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT–3) undersea cables were both hit by faults on Sunday August 6, 2023, causing slow Internet speeds in South Africa.
(Source: Image by Freepik).

The WACS system lands in South Africa at Yzerfontein, Western Cape, while the SAT-3 system enters the country at Melkbosstrand, Western Cape.

Telkom's wholesale subsidiary Openserve, which is responsible for the cable landing stations in South Africa for WACS and SAT-3, told TechCentral that both cables are affected, and it is collaborating with the consortium partners to facilitate the restoration of the cables.

The cable-laying ship Léon Thévenin has been mobilized for deep water repair, however, the ship is currently busy with repairs on another subsea cable system.

MarineTraffic is reporting that the ship landed in Mombasa, Kenya on Sunday after a 10-day voyage from Cape Town, South Africa.

The Léon Thévenin's estimated time of arrival to reach the site of the WACS fault is anywhere during the first three weeks of September, subject to weather conditions, MyBroadband reported.

Sluggish Internet speeds return

It is not the first time that South Africa has experienced sluggish Internet due to undersea cable issues.

In January 2020, South African Internet users experienced reduced speed on international browsing, international voice calling and mobile roaming for over a month, due to a simultaneous dual cable break on the SAT-3 and WACS cables.

The country experienced more slow speeds during the national COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020 due to another fault on WACS.

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*Top image source: Image by Freepik

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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