SA’s ISPs report slow Internet speeds after WACS cable break

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo
Johannesburg, 28 Mar 2020

The West Africa Cable System (WACS) submarine cable has suffered another break.

This was revealed by the South African National Research & Education Network (SA NREN), a major user of the cable, which detected the break just before midnight.

In a series of tweets, the organisation said: “We are observing our WACS capacity as down since 23h28 UTC/27th March 2020. A call has been logged with our provider for feedback. Traffic has failed over to SEACOM and EASSy cable systems…”

It added: “With the WACS and continued SAT-3 outages on the East Coast, SA NREN users working from home during the #Covid19SA #LockdownSA may experience issues if their home providers do not have sufficient capacity via alternate sub-sea cable systems.”

SA NREN says the WACS outage due to a suspected cable fault between Highbridge London and Seixal Portugal, and tests currently being conducted.

WACS is a submarine communications cable linking SA with the UK along the west coast of Africa that was constructed by Alcatel-Lucent.

The cable consists of four fibre pairs and is 14 530km in length, linking from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape of SA to London in the UK.

In January, WACS also suffered a cable break together with the SAT3/WASC cable, resulting in slow Internet speeds in SA.

Local Internet service providers (ISPs) have already started feeling the impact of the WACS cable break.

In a tweet this morning ISP Afrohost said: “Two of the undersea cables (WACS and SAT3) have suffered breaks. We’re working together with our suppliers to secure an alternate international path ASAP. We understand that you need your Internet now more than ever. This is our top priority. Thanks for your patience.”

Webafrica says: “We are currently experiencing slow speeds due to WACS undersea cable breaks. We are busy attending to the issue and will keep you updated on our Network Status page.”

Says Telkom: “Good day, please note that due to pre-existing outage on the West Africa Submarine Cable System (WACS), you may experience slow Internet response when browsing international websites. Our team of technicians are investigating this and will provide feedback soon.”

In an update to customers, Vox says: “Major international outage affecting WACS and SAT3 submarine cable systems which deliver traffic from South Africa to international destinations. Some Vox’s customers may experience problems with increased latency…”