Great news for South Africa’s slow Internet – Cable repair ship leaves harbour

Openserve has confirmed that the ship tasked with fixing broken submarine fibre cables has left Cape Town harbour.

The ship is sailing to Angola, where it will begin repairs of the damaged undersea cables – SAT3/WASC and WACS.

“Following delays caused by weather conditions last weekend, loading of the vessel with all gear and material required for the undersea cable repairs was completed by 17:40 yesterday,” said Openserve.

“The Leon Thevenin then set sail from South African shores with chief of mission Didier Mainguy and 53 other crew members on board. A senior representative from the WACS and SAT3 consortium forms part of the ship’s crew.”

According to Openserve, the ship is expected to reach the first repair site on 28 January – unless weather conditions cause further delays.

Broken cables

The ship is on route following simultaneous cable breaks on the SAT3/WASC and WACS systems on 16 January, which resulted in Internet users who have their traffic routed through these cables suffering significantly lower international Internet speeds.

These data transmission issues also extend to voice calling and mobile roaming, said Openserve.

The WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems are deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and connect various African countries to Europe – including South Africa.

The WACS system enters South Africa at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, while the SAT3/WASC system enters at Melkbosstrand.

Effect on networks

MyBroadband 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.

Test 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 are provided below. Images are courtesy of RSAWEB and Openserve.



repair ship 1

Repair ship 2

Repair ship 3

Now read: WACS outage – We tested Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, and Rain

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Great news for South Africa’s slow Internet – Cable repair ship leaves harbour