Massive undersea cable outage fix delayed, says Microsoft

Microsoft has informed customers that repairs to four undersea cables that went offline around noon on Thursday have been delayed.

In the meantime, the company has re-routed traffic to restore functionality of its cloud platforms in South Africa.

This comes after a massive outage in Côte d’Ivoire near Abidjan took down the West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT–3 cables.

It is unclear what caused the disruption.

“Investigations are being undertaken on behalf of the subsea cable system owners and we are unable to confirm any further details,” a WIOCC spokesperson told MyBroadband.

WIOCC is a major player in the African undersea cable space, with its history tracing back to the launch of the East coast cable system EASSy in 2010.

It has since significantly expanded its operations to cover multiple cables and data centres on the continent.

“Our focus at this time is on restoring the clients we have using these systems onto other subsea systems on which we own capacity, including EASSy and Equiano.”

Telkom’s wholesale and networks division Openserve also couldn’t comment on what caused the outage.

“No official statement has been communicated by the consortium,” it said.

“Openserve can confirm the cable failures on the WACS and SAT-3 undersea cables. The impact on Openserve is limited to customers on the international private lease circuits (IPLC) services.

“The Openserve network remains robust due to our investment in other international cable capacity, hence traffic has been automatically re-routed, ensuring customers stay seamlessly connected.”

Microsoft assured customers last night that it would have a mitigation in place by midnight South African time.

“Efforts to re-route traffic to healthy infrastructure have been successful in providing service-side relief to many users,” Microsoft said at 22:35.

Just before 01:00, Microsoft said its analysis indicates that users should no longer be experiencing service issues.

“Our remediation to ensure impact doesn’t reoccur will be completed by March 15, 2024, at 2:00 AM UTC,” it added.

However, at just before 05:00, Microsoft said there were delays to its plan to resolve the issue.

“We’re experiencing delays in the West Africa fibre cables repair, which is preventing resolution of this issue,” it said.

“As previously communicated, we are working to increase our capacity. However, our efforts have encountered some delays, and as a result, we are pushing back our estimated time of completion. We anticipate that these additional steps will help alleviate the ongoing capacity bottleneck.”

Microsoft said that in addition to the four cables going down in West Africa, ongoing cable cuts in the Red Sea — EIG, Seacom, AAE–1 — are also impacting overall capacity on the East Coast of Africa.

“These incidents together had reduced the total network capacity for most of Africa’s regions,” it explained.

However, Microsoft also said that the region’s overall network health has been steadily improving.

“Many of the Azure Services that were affected earlier by this issue have now returned to their normal levels. We are still validating for any remaining services, however the users for these would already notice considerable improvements.”

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Massive undersea cable outage fix delayed, says Microsoft