Sunday, 3rd December 2023

ISPs battle to restore service after damaged submarine cables

By Adeyemi Adepetun
10 August 2023   |   3:17 am
Two submarine cable systems, which also service the Nigerian market, have suffered damage and cut off the coast of West Africa. MyBroadband revealed that the West African Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) undersea cables have broken.

submarine cable

•Multichoice exits Malawi

Two submarine cable systems, which also service the Nigerian market, have suffered damage and cut off the coast of West Africa. My Broadband revealed that the West African Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3) undersea cables have broken.

It was noted that the two cables reportedly suffered breaks between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon due to two separate rock falls in the Congo Canyon on Sunday.

SAT-3 is a submarine fiber optic communications cable funded and owned by Nigeria’s ntel (NatCom) and 47 other leading telecoms operators across the globe. WACS on the other hand is an ultra-high capacity fibre optic submarine cable, which links Europe, West Africa, and South Africa. It is a four-pair fibre system that stretches 14,500 km connecting 14 countries over two continents. WACS is owned and operated by a consortium of international and African carriers, including Vodacome and MTN.

Though, the impact of the cut has not been felt much within the West African region, Internet services have been experiencing some fluctuations, which before the cut, has been the tradition.

An official of ntel, who spoke on the condition of anonymity with The Guardian, confirmed the cut but said the challenge is under control “and won’t impact operations in the country.” Africa, according to Statista had around 570 million Internet users as of 2022.

Indeed, according to datacentredynamics, the cable ship CS Léon Thévenin has been mobilised for the deep-water repair but could take several weeks to arrive at the break site as it is currently sailing from Kenya on the east coast of Africa and will have to sail around the Horn of Africa. Telkom’s wholesale fixed-line division Openserve has confirmed the issue but hasn’t provided an estimated repair date.

“Openserve can confirm the breaks of the WACS and SAT-3 undersea cables. We are collaborating with the consortium partners to facilitate the restoration of these cables. The impact on our network is limited to customers on the international private leased circuits (IPLC) services,” the company said.

Cameroonian telco CamTel also noted the issue; however, it said the SAT-3 cable suffered damages off the coast of Gabon and on the land section of Abidjan on the Ivory Coast.

MEANWHILE, MultiChoice Africa is exiting Malawi following a High Court ruling preventing it from invoking further price increases for DStv service in the country.

The company explained in a statement that it regretted the development, saying it came following the injunction issued by the High Court in Lilongwe in a matter between MultiChoice Malawi (MCM) and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) prohibiting an adjustment to the DStv tariffs.

According to the firm, MCM does not offer the DStv service to the public and therefore cannot set or adjust tariffs for this service, a point repeatedly made to MACRA.

“As a result, the order handed down to MCM is incapable of being implemented by them but carries with it grave consequences for the directors and management of MultiChoice Malawi, including imprisonment. MAH given the impact on its supplier (MCM) and an increasingly adverse regulatory environment is therefore left with no option but to terminate the DStv service indefinitely.

“Customers are hereby, and with immediate effect, requested to halt payment for the DStv service. Customers who have already paid their new subscription for the DStv service will have those services honored until the current 30-day viewing cycle ends on or before September 10, 2023. From Wednesday, August 9, 2023, no new subscriptions or reconnections will be accepted.

“MAH would like to thank customers for their support over many years. MAH would also like to thank MCM for their professional conduct in supplying services to MAH over as many years.

Recall that in Multichoice’s yearly results for the year ended March 31, 2023, DStv’s “Rest of Africa”. Market segment, which included its plays in the continent apart from South Africa, returned to profitability for the first time since the company was publicly listed in 2019.

“We continued to scale our overall subscriber base and benefited from a strong performance in the Rest of Africa that delivered a trading profit for the first time since our listing in 2019,” said CEO, Calvo Mawela.