Seacom outage could last till April

International internet connectivity between Africa and Europe has been affected by damage to Seacom undersea cable infrastructure.

Seacom CEO Mark Simpson (image: Seacom)

The company has issued several statements since Friday last week saying that they are in the process of restoring transmission. However, South African internet provider Internet Solutions notified their clients that repairs could last till April.

In an email dated 23 March, Internet Solutions responded to a service request by saying that the impact of the current cut and subsequent repairs will be increased latency from South Africa, and “Repairs to be completed ETA 05 April 2013”.

Yesterday morning Seacom issued another statement regarding the repair process, and said that “Seacom continues to work to restore transmission customers across the Mediterranean Sea. Optimisation of the IP network is also ongoing to relieve congestion where we can.”

On Saturday 23 March, Seacom CEO Mark Simpson issued a statement on the company’s website saying that while customers have been told a cable was cut, the actual cause is still unknown and could take some time to repair.

“I know that many of you are keen to know the cause of the outage is a physical cable cut some kilometres north of the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea. This is not likely to be known until the cable is repaired in the coming week or two and the damaged section is recovered from the seabed and inspected,” he said.

As with previous issues experienced off the Egyptian coast, Simpson suspects a large ship to be the culprit.

“We suspect, based on our experience with sub-sea systems and the nature of the sea area where the cut has occurred, that the most likely cause is external aggression to the cable most probably caused by a larger vessel dragging its anchor across the sea bed. Unfortunately this remains a common cause of damage to cable systems globally, despite our continued efforts to protect the cable with armour, burying, notifications to ships of cable location and exclusion zones.”

“While we believed we had secured adequate restoration capacity between Egypt and Europe yesterday (Friday), it has since eventuated during today that the physical capability to connect this capacity to our services in Europe is neither adequate nor stable enough. In addition the capacity that may be available is in a long line of activations requested by many carriers and is not progressing at the rate we, or our customers, need,” he added.

 Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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