Massive Internet problems in South Africa

South Africa has been hit with a large Internet outage affecting thousands of users across the country. It includes a lack of Internet access and users unable to use some online services.

MyBroadband has learned that multiple outages on undersea cables near Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire are causing downtime. The West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3 cables are affected.

WIOCC group business development head Darren Bedford confirmed that multiple undersea cables operating along Africa’s West coast are experiencing outages.

Bedford said their capacity on the Equiano cable had not been impacted. WIOCC also has capacity on the East coast EASSy cable. Due to this redundant capacity, Bedford said the outage will not impact their customers.

Vodacom has also confirmed the undersea cable outages.

“Multiple undersea cable failures between South Africa and Europe are currently impacting South Africa’s network providers, including Vodacom,” a company spokesperson said.

“This means that certain customers are currently experiencing intermittent connectivity issues. We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience while the issue is being attended to.”

The outage started around 12:30 on Thursday, 14 March 2024.

Outage tracker Downdetector showed a big spike in reports of issues on websites, apps, and network providers that offer data services.

Many Vodacom customers have also reported that their mobile data was down in several parts of the country. MyBroadband confirmed this with tests in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Vodacom’s voice network was working.

At the time of publication, reports were streaming in from South African Internet users about problems accessing many high-profile online services.

These services include FNB, LinkedIn, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, X (Twitter), and Xbox.

Many broadband users, including Mweb, Openserve, Seacom, Telkom, Vodacom, Vumatel, and Vox subscribers, also reported problems with their Internet access.

According to the outage maps of the affected services, users across South Africa have been impacted.

Microsoft Azure problems in South Africa

The outages disrupted Microsoft Azure services in South Africa. Microsoft Office 365 customers around the country complained that they could not access their cloud-hosted services.

Users reported that the Azure portal was offline, hosted services were offline, and even the health pages were not loading.

Microsoft Azure’s status page has acknowledged an issue which could be to blame for the outages.

“Starting at 10:30 UTC [12:30 SAST] on 14 Mar 2024, customers using Azure Services in South Africa North and South Africa West may experience increased network latency or packet drops when accessing their resources, degradation and availability issues,” a notice on the website said.

“We are currently investigating a networking issue that has resulted in higher-than-expected latency for users whose resources are hosted in or connect with South Africa North and West.”

Microsoft’s acknowledgement came after MyBroadband forum members noticed the outage.

Several said they could not access the cloud platform’s portal from 12:30, the same time the reports from users first came in.

Microsoft subsequently also confirmed that multiple cable outages — WACS, MainOne, SAT3, ACE — have reduced total capacity supporting its regions in South Africa.

“In addition to these cable impacts, the ongoing cable cuts in the Red Sea — EIG, Seacom, AAE-1 — are also impacting capacity on the East Coast of Africa,” Microsoft said.

“This combination of incidents has impacted all Africa capacity — including other cloud providers and public Internet as well.”

Microsoft said it is redirecting traffic to mitigate the impact of the outage.

South African payment provider Yoco also blamed Microsoft Azure’s network issue for being unable to process payments.

“Our service provider, Microsoft Azure, is experiencing a widespread outage which is currently impacting our transactions. Azure are working to resolve the issue,” it said in response to a complaint from one of its customers.

Downtime of Internet services in South Africa

The screenshot below from Downdetector shows the services with the highest number of outage reports in South Africa at the time of publication.

By: Hanno Labuschagne, Rudolph Muller, and Jan Vermeulen.

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Massive Internet problems in South Africa