• Friday, April 12, 2024
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Seabed vibrations likely caused cable cuts disrupting Internet — MainOne

MainOne to power broadband connectivity for Regtech Africa Confab

MainOne has disclosed that seismic activity on the seabed may have caused cable breaks impacting Internet access in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and other African countries.

In a recent update, the digital infrastructure company, which has been one of the most hit, ruled out human activity as the cause of the cable cut, given the depth of the fault.

“Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable, but we will obtain more data when the cable is retrieved during the repair exercise,” it said.

Read also: Normal internet services may take 5 weeks to be restored

Repairs might take weeks, the company highlighted. “This process might take 1-2 weeks for repairs while about 2-3 weeks of transit time may be required for the vessel to pick up the spares and travel from Europe to West Africa once the vessel is mobilised,” it stated.

The company has declared force majeure because of the incident and has since acquired capacity on available cable systems. However, it noted that it has yet to find readily available capacity to fully restore services to its customers.

“We have restored services to some customers and are actively working on restoring services to others via capacity acquired on available cable systems. The estimated repair time is for our submarine cable fault to be fixed, to enable our services to become fully restored, and independently supply capacity to our customers,” it said on Saturday.

On Thursday (March 14, 2024), the Nigerian Communications Commission confirmed Internet disruptions due to multiple cable cuts. These cuts affected the West African Cable System, African Coast to Europe, SAT3, and MainOne, impacting Internet speed and access in the region.

“In Nigeria and other West African countries, Internet access and speed have experienced disruptions in the networks of service providers in the affected countries,” the commission said.

Almost all mobile network providers were affected, and Internet services went offline, with banks and other digital services experiencing downtimes.

Eight subsea cables bring Internet capacity to Nigeria: Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), Glo-1, SAT3, West Africa Cable System (WACS), MainOne, Equiano, 2Africa, and Nigeria Camerron Submarine Cable System (NCSCS).

According to the Submarine Cable Map, most of the subsea cables affected by these cuts have landing points in Cote d’Ivoire and include ACE, WACS, SAT-3, and MainOne. 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 and engaging with our consortium partners to expedite the repair process for the damaged cables.”

Internet capacity is not expected at full speed in the affected country for a while. “This is a devastating blow to internet connectivity along the west coast of Africa, which will be operating in a degraded state for weeks to come,” Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis firm Kentik, revealed in a Bloomberg report.