South Africans have been grappling with frustratingly sluggish internet connectivity and troublesome call services in the past week. While the blame typically falls on ISPs or cell network providers, this time it wasn’t their doing.
Recent reports from MyBroadband unveil the root cause: a rock fall in the Congo Canyon triggered a disruption in the WACS and SAT-3 undersea fibre cables. These breaks, which occurred on August 6, have triggered a wave of internet woes across South Africa, leading to slow-loading websites and even complete service outages.
Jan Vermeulen, the editor at MyBroadband, shed light on the situation in an interview. He revealed that the cable breaks transpired in two vital undersea cables – the West African Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic Telecommunications 3 (SAT–3) – situated off the coast of Congo, around 3,600 km northwest of South Africa.
Repairing the cables presents a challenge due to the remote location, with an estimated timeframe of up to a month for a cable repair vessel to reach the site. However, since the WACS cable no longer serves as the primary link between South Africa and Europe, the overall impact might be slightly mitigated. This is because multiple underwater cables connect South Africa, and some service providers possess substantial capacity on alternative cables.
Users of Disney+ have reported a noticeable decline in service quality during evening hours, typically from 6 pm to 10 pm. Vodacom, a major telecom company, acknowledged the expected disruptions in traffic due to the cable breaks.
While certain service providers cautioned that websites hosted in the US or Europe could still experience slowness or even downtime, network operators are actively pursuing solutions to enhance capacity and rectify the issue.
This recent setback in South Africa’s internet connectivity underscores the critical role undersea cables play in global communication networks. As the nation works to restore its digital infrastructure, users and providers alike are reminded of the intricate systems that keep the modern world connected.
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