• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Internet outage frustrates remote workers

Internet outage frustrates remote workers

Battling degraded internet connectivity in recent days, many remote workers in Nigeria have been left frustrated and unable to meet deadlines or attend meetings.

“I have two deadlines tomorrow, but I can’t do anything today,” Percy Ani, a freelance writer, told BusinessDay over the weekend.

“I just want to be able to open small files. This is tiring,” he said. Like Ani, many remote workers were impacted by disruptions to their internet connections from Thursday last week due to undersea cable cuts near Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.

Chiamaka Dike, a journalist and editor, said: “The internet was horrible on my main line. I had to rely on the hotspot of one of my family members who uses another network provider.”

“We have regular company round learning sessions on certain Fridays. It was so terrible last Friday that it had to be postponed. The speaker was barely visible, and half the firm couldn’t even see the slides he was presenting, the sound was bad too,” an investment analyst who identified himself simply as Oladayo said. “Some of my colleagues didn’t even receive emails the whole day.”

There is a long list of complaints from remote workers who have grappled with slow internet since last week. A considerable number of people either work entirely remotely or are hybrid. In 2022, statistics disclosed that around 18 percent of people across the globe work remotely full-time.

This type of work largely depends on the internet because of meetings and monitored deliverables. “I am missing meetings as we speak,” Kelvin Ekerete, a communications manager of a tech company who works from home three days a week, told BusinessDay.

Many impacted workers BusinessDay spoke to said they had to look for alternatives, including temporarily switching network providers.

On Thursday, major undersea cable breaks disrupted internet connectivity in Nigeria and several other West African countries. This disruption affected banks, digital services, and subscribers of some network operators in Nigeria.

The affected cables include the West African Cable System (WACS), the African Coast to Europe (ACE), SAT3, and MainOne.

According to MainOne, seismic activity on the seabed may have caused the cable breaks that impacted Internet access in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and other African countries.

Undersea cables are critical infrastructure vital to Internet connectivity because they carry vast data traffic across continents. When they are damaged, the internet is severely disrupted, businesses, government operations, and individual users are significantly impacted.

Many of the affected cable operators have since acquired capacity on available cable systems. However, MainOne said it has yet to find readily available capacity to fully restore services to its customers.

Eight subsea cables bring internet capacity to Nigeria: ACE, Glo-1, SAT3, WACS, MainOne, Equiano, 2Africa, and Nigeria Cameroon Submarine Cable System.

Most of the subsea cables affected by the cuts, including ACE, WACS, SAT-3, and MainOne, had landing points in Cote d’Ivoire. While 2Africa also lands in Cote d’Ivoire, no information suggests it was affected.

Network providers have shifted to other available cables, such as Equiano and Glo-1. “We quickly expanded capacity on Equanio, and we have some capacity on Glo 1. Our issue is almost gone, but we don’t have any congestion again,” sources close to Airtel told BusinessDay.

MTN has also shifted its capacity. Bayobab Group, a subsidiary of MTN Group, said: “To mitigate the impact on our customers in the affected countries, our operations are actively working to reroute traffic through alternative network paths.”

Full internet restoration may take weeks, but the Nigerian Communications Commission on Monday revealed that internet services are now back at 90 percent capacity.

It said operators impacted by the cuts have now taken recovery capacity from submarine cables which were not impacted by the cuts “and have thus recovered approximately 90 percent of their peak utilisation capacities.”

“The network seems to be a little better today,” Ani said on Monday.