Seacom and Eassy problems: ADSL ISPs respond

Multiple submarine cable systems across Africa, the Middle East and Asia are affected by cable breaks which are believed to have been caused by a large vessel dragging its anchor across the sea bed.

Two cable systems serving South Africa – Seacom and Eassy – have been affected by the cable breaks in the Mediterranean Sea.

Seacom CEO Mark Simpson said on Saturday that the company continues to work to restore transmission and getting restoration services turned on.

“However, this process is proving much more complex and taking longer than we were initially told by our suppliers and would have expected,” Simpson said.

Local ADSL providers give feedback

Many South African ADSL service providers use Seacom and Eassy for international connectivity, and many local broadband users continue to complain about slow international throughput.

Most service providers have already re-routed traffic to alleviate the effects of the cable breaks, but capacity limitations may influence the performance of some subscribers.

Afrihost: Brendan Armstrong, Gian Visser, Greg Payne, Peter Meintjes

Afrihost director Greg Payne said that the Seacom issues are not affecting Afrihost’s network at all as they only use Seacom as a backup.

However, Afrihost uses the Eassy cable which forced the ISP to re-route traffic over WACS while the circuit is down.

Afrihost CEO Gian Visser added that there has been a phenomenal take up of the monthly ‘free GB offer’ over the last few days. “People seem to be using it as a backup measure if their ISP has problems,” said Visser.

Derek Hershaw - MWEB ISP CEO
Derek Hershaw – MWEB ISP CEO

MWEB ISP Derek Hershaw said that the ISP has capacity on the WACS cable, but with Seacom completely down, this only covers about 45% of the total requirement.

“So most services are degraded to some extent and the particularly heavy protocols like P2P are not available at all,” said Hershaw.

“We’re in discussions with various operators to get full restoration bandwidth until the Seacom cable can be repaired. Hopefully we’ll have this in place shortly.”

Vox Telecom spokesperson Clayton Timcke said that they are not affected by the Eassy and Seacom’s problems as they have fill international redundancy.

Laurie Fialkov
Laurie Fialkov

Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov said that they were one of the first ISPs to take capacity on Seacom, and that they got “hit hard” with the original set of outages.

“Since then we have taken steps to mitigate a single cable system failure. We have done this by taking capacity on both WACS and SAT-3,” said Fialkov.

“We are therefore impacted by the Seacom outage, but not that severely. We have compensated by reducing P2P and software update throughput during business hours. Business customers should experience very little difference in their service.”

Internet Solutions, said that international DSL traffic has been diverted through the alternative international cable systems, predominantly SAT3 and WACS.

“IS traffic was not restricted to Seacom before this outage, therefore, although users will experience some increase in latency, this will be minimal,” IS said.

“This small increase in international latency is the extent to which the IS user base has been impacted by the Seacom outage. IS will continue to monitor the DSL network to ensure that any negative impact on the user experience is mitigated as far as possible.”

Rupert Bryant
Rupert Bryant

Web Africa COO Rupert Bryant said that on Friday 22 March bandwidth failed over to SAT-3. “During this we lost some bandwidth from Johannesburg to London on Seacom but the impact was fairly marginal,” said Bryant.

“We have implemented extra capacity on WACS over the weekend and hope that there if there is any further impact today it will be minimal.”

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Seacom and Eassy problems: ADSL ISPs respond