Openserve diverts traffic after dual submarine cable break

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Fixing the two submarine cables that snapped simultaneously last week will be a complex task.

This is according to infrastructure provider Openserve, which has been liaising with the WACS and SAT3/WASC undersea cable consortiums to determine the cause of the loss of service on both submarine cable systems.

The WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and connect SA and many other African countries to Europe.

The WACS system lands in SA at Yzerfontein, Western Cape, while the SAT3/WASC system enters the country at Melkbosstrand, Western Cape.

Through continuous liaison with the technical fault investigation teams of both cable consortiums, Openserve has ascertained the SAT3/WASC break is in the Libreville, Gabon, vicinity and the WACS break point is in the vicinity of Luanda, Angola.

Openserve last week said the unusual and simultaneous dual cable break resulted in customers that are connected to Openserve’s global capacity clients experiencing reduced speed on international browsing.

International voice calling and mobile roaming were also impacted, it noted.

Giving an update this week, Openserve says the cable vendors appointed by the consortia will probably only give an indication of the timelines to fully restore the cables once a cable ship has reached the break location and the repair crew has had some time to investigate the nature/severity of the breaks and then determined what’s required to restore.

It is anticipated that a cable ship currently docked at Cape Town harbour will be dispatched to attend to the repairs, the Telkom subsidiary says.

“It is important to note that even the simplest of repairs at great depths in the middle of the ocean would be quite complex. Much would depend on the wind speeds and weather conditions faced during the repair,” it notes.

Telkom/Openserve is just one equity partner on each of these submarine cable systems.

“We do have capacity on other submarine cables that run in the Indian Ocean through to Asia and Europe. This is why there is just ‘slow response’ on international connectivity rather than a complete ‘no response’ for clients and their customers that make use of Openserve’s global connectivity capacity.

“We are in the process of diverting traffic, wherever possible, to these cables and this will further minimise the impact on our clients and their customers. Openserve cannot comment on the impact on the clients and customers of other South African operators that hold equity in the affected cables.

“As a South African network operator, we are dependent on the consortium partners in the relevant territories where the breaks have occurred, to manage the restoration process in the shortest time possible. We have, however, made our resources available to both consortiums to assist wherever possible.

Meanwhile, World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck on Monday told radio 702 that: “Telkom, who seems to be the main spokesperson for this, has said they can’t give an actual estimated time, but it could take six days to reach the location once the ship sets sail and then another week to repair it.

“So we are looking at least two weeks, minimum, from today [Monday] before it’s likely to be repaired.”

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