Seacom suffers cable break

Read time 2min 50sec

Undersea cable company Seacom is working on restoring connectivity to transmission customers across the Mediterranean Sea, apparently after a cable break towards the end of last week off the Egyptian shore.

The company says it has optimised the IP network to relieve congestion where it can and will update end-users as soon as further information becomes available. It has not provided a timeframe for when the connection will be restored.

However, according to @MWEBGuy, MWeb's technical Twitter contact, "Early indications are that it may take up to two weeks to repair the break and restore full capacity." The cable has been down since Friday.

Seacom launched the first undersea fibre-optic cable, to connect Southern and Eastern Africa with Europe and Asia, in July 2009. The cable connects SA, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Djibouti with the rest of the world via landing points in France (and onwards to London) and India.

On Saturday, CEO Mark Simpson sent out a message saying multiple cable systems continue to be affected across Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

@MWEBGuy says the Internet service provider (ISP) is currently trying to source additional capacity. The social media face of the ISP was responding to queries from subscribers about slow or no Internet service posted on Twitter.

Internet Solutions has also experienced problems as a result of the outage, with its Twitter account indicating it has rerouted traffic and added bandwidth, but some people may experience latency. It does not give a timeframe for resolution.

Work in progress

Simpson says the exact root cause is not likely to be known until the cable is repaired in the coming week or two, and the damaged section is recovered from the seabed and inspected. "I know that many of you are keen to know the cause of the outage is a physical cable cut some kilometres north of the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea."

Seacom suspects, based on its experience with sub-sea systems and the nature of the sea area where the cut has occurred, that "the most likely cause is external aggression to the cable, most probably caused by a larger vessel dragging its anchor across the seabed".

This is a common cause of damage to cable systems globally, despite continued efforts to protect the cable with armour, burying, notifications to ships of cable location and exclusion zones, notes Simpson.

Simpson says the Seacom team remains committed to getting restoration services up. "However, this process is proving much more complex and taking longer than we were initially told by our suppliers and would have expected."

Seacom continues to push for activation as a priority, coordinating across a number of carriers internationally, says Simpson. "However, as this is not providing solutions in the timeframe we require, we are also actively seeking new restoration solutions. This will continue to take some time and we are not able to provide timeframes as yet on when services will be restored."

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