South Africa’s slow Internet – Latest repair update

Many South Africans are experiencing slow Internet speeds due to a pair of undersea fibre cable breaks.

South African ISPs described the latest breaks as a “high impact event” that may cause performance degradation for their clients.

The South African Nation Research and Education Network issued an alert on 27 March 2020 stating there was a break on the West Africa Cable System (WACS).

This coincides with a break on the SAT-3 undersea cable, which occurred on 8 March and has still not been repaired.

The WACS and SAT-3 cable systems are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and connect South Africa and other African countries to Europe.

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

RENAlerts confirmed the break on WACS took place on a cable belonging to TATA between Highbridge in the UK, and Seixal in Portugal.


WACS cable

RENAlerts recently announced that a cable repair vessel is on its way to repair the break in the WACS system.

The repair ship tasked with fixing the break in WACS has the necessary spares aboard and is underway to the site of the fault. The vessel is owned by TATA, the company which owns the damaged segment of the cable system.

This ship is expected to arrive at the break today at 11:00, and the repair of the cable is set to be completed on 4 April 2020.

The map below shows the progress of the Ile D’Aix cable vessel to the site of the cable break as of 31 March 2020.

RENAlerts WACS break map


SAT-3 cable

While a ship is on its way to repair the WACS break, the Orange Marine repair ship Leon Thevenin has arrived at the break in the SAT-3 cable off the coast of Congo.

This vessel departed from Cape Town harbour on 15 March to fix the break on the SAT-3 cable.

As of 31 March, the team on the cable repair ship continues to make progress, with the estimated completion date for these repairs being 2 April 2020.

“SAT-3 Outage Update: The Leon Thevenin work is in the final stages with the crew working to complete the final splice work,” RENAlerts said.

This means that while South Africans may see an improvement in international connectivity on 2 April, full capacity will only be restored from 4 April.

The map below details the location of the SAT-3 cable break, where the Leon Thevenin is currently conducting repairs.

RENAlerts map 1


Now read: Liquid Telecom has mitigated network issues caused by WACS break

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South Africa’s slow Internet – Latest repair update