Undersea hitch slows Internet

2013-03-26 00:00

INTERNET connections that were slowed down by a damaged underwater fibre optic cable and which affected service providers in South Africa are expected to be restored by tomorrow.

On Friday, cable operator Seacom reported that its undersea cable between Egypt and Europe was severed.

Seacom said that the cable was cut some kilometres north of the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean.

“The cause is not likely to be known until the cable is repaired in the coming week or two and the damaged section is recovered from the seabed and inspected.

Seacom suspected that the cable was damaged when a vessel dragged its anchor across the sea bed, said its chief executive officer, Mark Simpson.

All capacity routes between Africa, the Middle East and Asia experienced congestion on the connection to Europe.

Simpson said Europe was the main destination for the average Internet user in these regions and it meant that the same bits of data had to travel on fewer transmission paths, which caused congestion and slower Internet speeds.

The Seacom cable supplies services to Internet service providers (ISPs) such as MWEB, Cybersmart and Internet Solutions.

Users accessing the Internet through these service providers experience slow connections and download speeds, with limited access to applications.

Simpson said Seacom had resorted to directing usage through alternative routes and hoped that connections would be restored within the next day or two.

Seacom expects to have the damaged undersea cable repaired within the next two weeks.

Since the incident, MWEB had been running at 45% efficiency, but yesterday the ISP managed to secure a more stable connection.

“MWEB has managed to secure additional international capacity from Seacom through an alternative route and are now running at almost 90% of their total requirement,”said MWEB spokesperson Mandy Graham.

Other ISPs such as Cybersmart used social networks to update users on the progress of restoring connection speeds.

Bandwidth for users in other African countries on the Seacom cable system, West Coast capacity on the West African cable system and the connection from Africa to Asia have not been affected.

Anchor damage to cable systems occurs globally, particularly in shallow waters near the shoreline.

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