Slow Internet in South Africa – Repairs will take 3 weeks

Many South Africans are experiencing slow Internet connectivity to international websites due to breaks on both the WACS and SAT-3/WASC submarine cable systems.

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 Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) recently said that the repair on the WACS cable system would be completed by 8 February 2020, with no estimated repair time for the other cable breaks.

Openserve has now released an update on the cable repair schedule which states that the first repair will be completed two days earlier on 6 February.

After the WACS cable break in the Congo is fixed, however, there are two more breaks to address on the SAT-3/WASC cable system.

Openserve said that all the cable breaks are expected to be repaired on 25 February 2020. This schedule is subject to weather conditions and other external factors.

Inclement weather

“Rough conditions at sea and inclement weather seem to be the major factor directing the crew aboard the Leon Thevenin as they progress with the joint repair mission of the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT3/WASC) and the West African Cable System (WACS),” Openserve said.

“The Chief of Mission aboard the vessel has reported that in order to mitigate against unfavourable conditions, the sequence of the repair work has been changed from what was initially planned but the restoration process is continuing.”

The company said that, as it stands, the repair ship is scheduled to depart for the SAT3/WASC cable break off the coast of Ghana on 6 February.

“As per the report received, the vessel will travel on to offshore Ghana next, to attend to the repair of a section of the SAT3/WASC repair,” Openserve said.

“It is anticipated that this restoration portion will be completed by 17 February 2020.”

“Thereafter, the ship will proceed to the next break location of the SAT3/WASC cable and again, if all goes well, the work is set to be completed around 25 February.”

Internet speeds affected

Multiple ISPs have said their international connectivity has been affected by the cable breaks, and tests by MyBroadband show that mobile operators are also negatively affected.

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.

It is unclear whether international Internet connectivity will return to previous levels after the WACS break off the coast of the Congo is fixed, or if speeds will still be impacted by the breaks on the SAT-3/WASC cable system.

Openserve stated that repairs should be completed on 25 February, which means that Internet speeds to international websites are only guaranteed to return to previous levels after this date.

Now read: Don’t be scared of using public Wi-Fi

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Slow Internet in South Africa – Repairs will take 3 weeks