Undersea cable break takes down South African Discord voice servers

Discord users are unable to start voice servers that are hosted in South Africa, a test by MyBroadband has confirmed.

This is due to a break in the WACS undersea cable connecting South Africa to Europe.

The break has disrupted the backbone link of Discord’s service provider, Ubisoft-owned i3D.net.

Discord is a social networking application that lets users create communities with chat rooms for voice, text, and video communication.

It first launched South African servers in 2018.

“Due to the current incident on our backbone link between our Madrid and Johannesburg datacenters, users between these and surrounding regions may experience increased latency,” i3D said on its network status page.

While Discord users in South Africa can still join and create voice chat channels, these are being hosted outside the country.

Testing by MyBroadband indicated that Discord is automatically falling back to voice chat servers in Madrid, Spain.

Occasionally, the platform also allocated Dubai-based servers for voice chat rooms.

Discord has a mechanism that allows it to automatically assign servers from any of the datacentres where i3D has a presence.

If you are in South Africa and you are the first person to connect to a voice channel, it is typically hosted on a server located in Teraco’s data centre in Johannesburg.

Community administrators also have the ability to override a voice channel’s region.

For our test, we set the voice channel override to South Africa. When we connected to it, it was allocated a Madrid-based server.

Pings to known South African Discord voice server addresses also returned errors or timed out.

Therefore, South Africans will still be able to use Discord — voice channels will just have a higher latency than users may be accustomed to.

High latency in voice over IP applications generally causes people to speak over one another more, as it becomes more difficult for people to hear appropriate breaks in conversation to begin speaking.

If the latency gets too high, it can impact the voice quality of participants in the channel.

Discord’s status page indicates that there were no problems with its South African servers at the time of publication.

However, i3D confirmed that the WACS cable break had disrupted its backbone link.

“Vendor has reported back that traffic via submarine cable WACS S1i has gone down and have sent their field engineers to fix the exact break,” it stated.

Hopefully i3D or Discord can find a way to mitigate the impact of the break, because initial indications are that it will take over a month to fix.

A status update issued on Tuesday evening revealed that the cable repair ship tasked with fixing WACS, Léon Thévenin, is currently busy with repairs on another subsea cable system.

Currently, the earliest it can get to the location of the WACS fault is the first week of September. It may also only arrive by mid-September, subject to weather conditions.

Initial reports suggest a rock fall in the Congo Canyon caused breaks in the WACS and SAT–3 cables on Sunday.

Based on the distance measured using the systems’ Coherent Optical Time Domain Reflectometers, the breaks occurred between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

MarineTraffic reports the Léon Thévenin is currently in Mombasa, Kenya. It landed at Mombasa harbour after a 10-day voyage from Cape Town.


Thanks to Lawrence for the tip.

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Undersea cable break takes down South African Discord voice servers