The RENAlerts service from SANREN and TENET has reported that the initial repairs to the break on the West Africa Cable System (WACS) are set to be completed on the afternoon of 1 April.
Full restoration has moved forward slightly to Friday, 3 April 2020.
RENAlerts warned that this is an estimated time-to-repair and is subject to change.
Late last Friday night, a break was detected on a cable belonging to TATA between Highbridge in the UK and Seixal in Portugal. The break was close to a landing station on the UK side of the cable.
It was possible to quickly dispatch a repair ship, the Ile D’Aix, to the location of the break.
The ship arrived at the break on 31 March and the latest report from RENAlerts was that the initial splicing of the cable is expected to be completed today.
WACS Outage Update: Initial splicing completion expected by 17:00 UTC today. The planned repair completion has shifted forward slightly to Friday afternoon, 03/04/2020, but is subject to change.
— SA NREN Operational Updates & Alerts (@RENAlerts) April 1, 2020
The cable break has caused degradation in international speeds for many Internet service providers in South Africa.
Making matters worse is the fact that the SAT-3 cable, which also runs along the west coast of Africa, was also down following a break on 9 March.
The Orange Marine repair ship Leon Thevenin has been attending to the break in the SAT-3 cable off the coast of Congo. RENAlerts confirmed that the ship departed from Cape Town harbour on 15 March.
The estimated repair completion date for SAT-3 was 2 April 2020, but RENAlerts noted on 31 March that its SAT-3 links were being restored.
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.