Submarine Cable Map
Submarine Cable Map. Source: TeleGeography, a telecommunications market research and consulting firm.
  • South African internet speeds have been hit by breakdowns in the two undersea cables that connect the local internet with the world.
  • Separate failures near Congo and Gabon have been reported, and now there's a new problem: off the coast of the UK.
  • It remains unclear when the cables will be back online.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page

Local problems with slow internet speeds probably won't end soon: another breakdown has hit one of the two key undersea cables that connect South Africa to the global internet. 

In a freak occurrence, both of undersea cables are out of action due to 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 apparently been hit by a breakdown near  Gabon.

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. 

But now, a second break has reportedly been found on Wacs - close to the UK.

According to a notification received by the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), that operates the SANReN network connecting the internet to South African universities, a second break in Wacs has been found – this time near the United Kingdom side.

“We hope to receive clarity on the end-to-end problem in the next few hours as previous reports indicated issues in the Congo area. This outage appears to have multiple problems,” it stated on its Twitter account.

Read: South Africa struggling with slow internet after two undersea cables failed - here's who is affected

IT engineers told BI SA that the SAT-3/Wasc cable may be physically broken at one point, with a number of different faults at other positions along the way.

Some local internet service providers are diverting traffic through another undersea cable, SEACOM/EASSy, which runs alongside the eastern coast of Africa. This is ensuring that South Africans can still access the internet, but it is also putting pressure on the SEACOM cable, causing slower internet traffic.

It is unclear when the Western African cables will be fully operational again. Customers of Telkom's Openserve, Axxess and Afrihost are among those affected.

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