Breaks on both the WACS and SAT-3/WASC submarine cable systems last month have resulted in slow Internet connectivity for many South Africans.
Both of these cable systems are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and are used to connect a number of African countries – including South Africa – to Europe.
The ship that has been tasked with fixing the cable began repairs on the broken WACS submarine cable last week.
At the time, the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) estimated that the repairs on the first broken cable would be complete by 8 February 2020.
TENET said that the repair vessel Leon Thevenin is still at the site of the first WACS cable break and that repairs are estimated to be completed on 8 February.
This might not mean the end of South Africa’s slow Internet issues, however, as there is still the SAT-3/WASC cable break to address as well as another break on the WACS near the United Kingdom.
TENET said on Twitter that it was still awaiting confirmation regarding the estimated repair time for the second WACS cable break.
“WACS repairs: In earlier tweets we mentioned that there was another break in the UK on WACS Segment-4,” TENET said.
“We are awaiting confirmation and further detail around the ETR for this segment. The Congo break ETR remains 08 February.”
This means that once the Congo break is repaired on 8 February, the WACS cable system may still be affected due to the break in the United Kingdom, and may only be fully operational again once this is repaired.
WACS repairs: In earlier tweets we mentioned that there was another break in the UK on WACS Segment-4. We are awaiting confirmation and further detail around the ETR for this segment. The Congo break ETR remains 08 February.
— REN Alerts (@RENAlerts) February 3, 2020
Effect on Internet speeds
MyBroadband previously asked various ISPs what effect the cable breaks had on their networks, and many said backup plans were executed to minimise potential downtime.
CyberSmart, MWEB, Cool Ideas, Mind the Speed, and RSAWEB all said the break had minimal to no effect on their networks due to redundancies they have in place.
WebAfrica said the breaks had initially had a major effect on their customers, but this has now been minimised as the ISP replaced the missing capacity with capacity from Seacom.
Tests conducted by MyBroadband also found that MTN and Vodacom were virtually unaffected by the breaks, while Rain and Cell C’s international speeds were roughly half of its local speeds.
Telkom suffered the worst of all mobile networks, with international speeds of only 5% of local speeds.
Photos of the Leon Thevenin cable repair ship which is currently attending to the break on the WACS cable system are below.