The South African National Research and Education Network issued an alert this morning stating there was a break on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) on 27 March.
Making matters worse is the fact that the SAT-3 cable is still down following a break on 9 March.
As a result, Afrihost has described the break as a “high impact event” that will cause performance degradation for its clients.
Other Internet service providers which rely on WACS and SAT-3 for international connectivity will also be impacted.
Afrihost has informed clients that it is urgently working to secure capacity on alternative international Internet routes.
“I’m sorry about the slow international Internet: Two undersea cables, WACS and SAT-3, have suffered major breaks,” Afrihost CEO Gian Visser told customers.
“We’re working together with our suppliers to secure an alternative international path ASAP. We understand that you need your Internet now more than ever and I promise you that this is our top priority. Thanks for your patience. Stay safe.”
WACS outage – repair ship being arranged
The RENAlerts service from SANREN and TENET has confirmed the break on WACS is on a cable belonging to TATA between Highbridge in the UK, and Seixal in Portugal
RENAlerts reported that TATA is making arrangements for a cable repair vessel to attend to the fault.
“Once the vessel is loaded, it will take approximately three days to reach site. We don’t have any anticipated repair date at this point,” it said.
WACS Outage: TATA is busy making arrangements for a cable repair vessel to attend to the sub-sea fault btw UK and Portugal. Once the vessel is loaded, it will take approx 3 days to reach site. We don't have any anticipate repair date at this point, but will share once obtained.
— SA NREN Operational Updates & Alerts (@RENAlerts) March 28, 2020
Repair ship fixing SAT-3 break
While TATA is making preparations 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.
RENAlerts reported the ship departed from Cape Town harbour on 15 March.
“The Leon Thevenin cable vessel continues to make progress on the repair,” RENAlerts reported yesterday.
“The estimated repair completion date for the SAT-3 Segment 3 outage is 2 April 2020.”
Five major breaks in one year
The simultaneous breaks on WACS and SAT-3 are reminiscent of a similar situation earlier this year when both cables went down on the same day in January.
Both cables had breaks in the middle of the ocean, also off the coast of Congo, and WACS was affected by a second break near a European landing station.
Bad weather in Cape Town delayed the Leon Thevenin’s departure at the time, and South Africans were plagued with slow Internet for weeks until WACS was repaired.
The two cables were only fully restored on 19 February.