Undersea connectivity cable to be fixed

Undersea connectivity cable to be fixed

August 26, 2023

The cable layer and repair ship Léon Thevenin has arrived in Cape Town harbour en route to effect repairs to the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) and South Atlantic 3 (Sat 3) undersea cables in the Congo Canyon, which are believed to have been damaged – probably by a rockfall earlier this month.

From Cape Town, the ship will continue up Africa’s western coast in search of the location of the breaks. According to preliminary estimates, Wacs repairs could be finished by September 8, depending on weather conditions. 

The breaks in the cables have caused disruptions in broadband speeds and stability in South Africa. Notably, these breaks impact South Africa’s connectivity to Europe but do not affect other high-capacity international subsea cables available in the region.

Some major content owners and distributors, such as Facebook and Akamai, lack sufficient redundant capacity and rely heavily on Wacs. As a result, during peak video streaming times, they struggle to bring content from their international servers to South Africa, forcing users to fetch content from servers in other locations. This places additional pressure on local Internet service providers to increase their international capacity.

The undersea cables are critical to Internet infrastructure, and their breakage has caused widespread interruptions in the country, which has an economic impact as it thwarts the free flow of information and documentation vital for international trade, according to the Wacs operator.

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