DFA network hit by surge of vandalism

Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) has confirmed that there were several acts of vandalism on portions of its network between 20 January and 2 February 2024.

“As a result of a series of infrastructure damage which is related to incidents of vandalism, such incidents gave rise to unforeseen and unavoidable force majeure events,” the company told MyBroadband.

“Vandalism and theft are unfortunate realities that all telecommunications companies must contend with in the South African context.”

MyBroadband contacted DFA after an Internet service provider notified us about several periods of extended downtime that had significantly impacted their customers.

The service provider said they had seen multiple hours-long outages on some links despite a service-level agreement with DFA. They also complained about a lack of communication from DFA.

DFA said it was not always possible to address the incidents within standard timeframes because the outages were due to several acts of vandalism and not usual or foreseen infrastructure damage.

However, it said it did keep customers informed with regular updates about the downtime.

“The incidents, as well as regular repair updates, were published on our website Network Status page,” DFA told MyBroadband.

“In addition to this, email communication was also distributed to all direct DFA customers, and also posted on our Service Desk Manager portal.”

DFA strongly encouraged all customers to ensure that they are registered on their Service Desk Manager Portal and that their contact information is current.

MyBroadband also contacted several prominent ISPs and fibre network operators to hear if they had similar experiences during the past three weeks.

Most declined to comment or didn’t respond. However, one of South Africa’s top five fibre network operators, Frogfoot, was willing to provide their perspective.

“Over the past few weeks, we have been made aware of the challenges faced by our industry colleague due to multiple instances of theft and vandalism on their network infrastructure,” Frogfoot stated.

It said that theft and vandalism are issues that impact not only the affected operator, but also the entire industry and its stakeholders.

“We extend our empathy and solidarity to DFA for the challenges they have faced recently. It is disheartening to witness such incidents that disrupt the critical services we all strive to provide,” said Frogfoot.

Frogfoot said that throughout this challenging period, DFA has kept it informed and updated on the evolving situation.

“They have demonstrated a commendable commitment to resolving the issues promptly by deploying teams around the clock,” it said.

“We acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the teams at DFA who have been working tirelessly to restore services and ensure minimal disruption to their customers.”

Frogfoot said that it is imperative for the industry to come together and address the broader issue of theft and vandalism on their networks.

“These criminal activities not only affect service providers, but also impact end-users who rely on our networks for various essential activities,” it stated.

“We believe that collaboration within the industry, along with support from regulatory bodies and law enforcement, is crucial to combating these challenges effectively.”

Frogfoot said it was committed to maintaining the integrity and security of its network infrastructure, and that it also continuously invested in measures to prevent and mitigate such incidents.

“We appreciate the understanding of our customers and partners during these trying times. As a community, let us work together to secure and safeguard our networks, ensuring a reliable and resilient digital future for all.”

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DFA network hit by surge of vandalism