The West African Cable System (Wacs) cable, which connects South Africa to the UK, suffered a breakage off of the coast of England – inconveniencing South Africans with slow and unreliable Internet. This comes at one of the worst possible times as the country enters a lockdown period of 21 days to curb the spread of COVID-19.
South African national research and education network (SANREN) partner, TENET says that “with the WACS outages on the east coast, SANREN users working from home during the lockdown may experience issues if their home providers do not have sufficient capacity via alternate sub-sea cable systems”.
This is something that network provider, Afrihost, has already acknowledged – “the [breakage] is causing increased latency and slow speeds when accessing international servers and data. Engineers are attending to the problem and hope to have it resolved soon”.
TENET says the Ile D’Aix cable vessel is on its way to the breakage and is estimated to arrive on Tuesday, 31 March 2020. Repairs on the cable can be expected to be completed by Saturday, 4 April 2020 – if not sooner.
WACS Outage Update: Cable vessel, the “Ile D’Aix”, underway to the SV8 (Highbridge UK) side cable break. ETA at cable ground – Tue 31/03/2020 09h00 UTC. Estimated repair date: Sat 04/04/2020. The approximate position of “Ile D’Aix” on its journey is as attached. pic.twitter.com/rY5YdOcq9s
— SA NREN Operational Updates & Alerts (@RENAlerts) March 30, 2020
This is the second breakage to disrupt the Internet-as-usual in South Africa. In January the WACS and Sat-3 cables brought the nations Internet to a crawl after suffering a breakage. The damage was attributed to heavy-rains over the Congo river resulting in a short circuit.