Submarine cables
The location of the breaks. (Map of undersea cables by submarinecablemap.com)
  • Two key undersea cables that connect South Africa to the global internet have both been hit by separate failures.
  • The South Atlantic 3/West Africa (SAT-3/Wasc) submarine cable and the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) have seen breakdowns near Gabon and Congo, respectively.
  • This has resulted in very slow speeds for some internet users, including to customers of Openserve, Axxess, and Afrihost.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

*This is a developing story. 

In a freak occurrence, two key undersea cables that connect South Africa to the global internet have both been hit by separate failures – resulting in very slow internet speeds for some users since Thursday.

The South Atlantic 3/West Africa (SAT-3/Wasc) submarine cable, which links Portugal and Spain to South Africa, with connections to several West African countries along the way, has been hit by a breakdown near Libreville, Gabon, internet service provider Axxess reported this morning. 

Meanwhile the West Africa Cable System (Wacs), which links South Africa with the United Kingdom, also along the west coast of Africa, saw an outage off the coast of Congo. 

This has resulted in some South African internet users experiencing excruciatingly slow speeds since Thursday.

"The unusual and simultaneous dual cable break has resulted in customers, that are connected to Openserve’s global capacity clients, experiencing reduced speed on international browsing. International voice calling and mobile roaming has also been impacted," Openserve said in a statement on Thursday.

"Openserve appreciates the patience of all affected clients and their customers as undersea cable infrastructure repairs are complex and can be time consuming."

On Friday morning, internet service provider Afrihost told users that connections are being re-routed, but that it still had no estimate on when normal service would resume.

Openserve says it has made "its resources" available to both the Wacs and SAT3/Wasc undersea cable consortiums, to assist wherever possible.

A second break has reportedly been found on Wacs - close to the UK, on Friday. While a ship is reportedly being loaded and will be dispatched to deal with both WACS and SAT-3 breaks over the weekend.*


Latest about Wacs (updated Friday 15h30)*

A second break has reportedly been found on Wacs - close to the UK.*

A ship is reportedly being loaded and will be dispatched to deal with both WACS and SAT-3 breaks over the weekend.*

The Wacs system lands at Yzerfontein, Western Cape while the SAT3/Wasc system enters South Africa at Melkbosstrand, near Cape Town.

A 'next plan of action' update for Wacs is expected around 10am UTC time, or 12 SA time, this is according to the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), that operates the SANReN network providing the South African higher education and research community with Internet connectivity. 

Wacs system is owned by the following:

Broadband Infraco, Telkom South Africa, Vodacom DRC, MTN, Tata Communications, Togo Telecom, Telecom Namibia, Office Congolais de Poste et Télécommunication, Congo Telecom, Portugal Telecom, Angola Cables, Cape Verde Telecom, Vodafone Espana, Vodafone, Neotel, PCCW, Camtel, Vodafone Ghana.

Source: Submarine Cable Map, a free resource from TeleGeography, a telecommunications market research and consulting firm. 


Latest about SAT-3/Wasc (updated Friday 15H30)*

A ship is reportedly being loaded and will be dispatched to deal with both WACS and SAT-3 breaks over the weekend.*

SAT-3/Wasc is owned by the following:

Telkom South Africa, Tata Communications, AT&T, BT, Camtel, Angola Telecom, Ghana Telecommunications Company, Mauritius Telecom, Verizon, NATCOM (Nigeria), OPT, BICS, Sprint, Singtel, KPN, Orange, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Telecom Namibia, Telekom Malaysia, Telxius, China Telecom, Chunghwa Telecom, Cote d’Ivoire Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Maroc Telecom, KT, Portugal Telecom, PCCW, Telstra, Cyta, Neotel, Vodafone, Benin Telecoms

Source: Submarine Cable Map, a free resource from TeleGeography, a telecommunications market research and consulting firm. 

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