Why Seacom has suffered another outage

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Broadband internet. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Broadband internet. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg – Construction work in Egypt is a key reason behind fibre cuts that have disrupted internet services in South Africa twice in one week.

This is according to Claes Segelberg, who is the chief technical officer of undersea broadband cable provider Seacom.

Seacom is an undersea broadband cable that stretches along Africa’s eastern coastline to Europe via connection points in Egypt. 

And on Thursday morning, an outage at around 06:00GMT (08:00 South African time) on a terrestrial network across Egypt affected Seacom's broadband connectivity to countries such as South Africa. Seacom said it expected the outage to be fixed within three hours.

READ: UPDATE: Seacom repairs outage in Egypt

This latest outage followed a similar disruption last week on Thursday January 21 when civil construction activity outside Cairo damaged the Northern Trans-Egypt and Southern Trans-Egypt fibre routes, Seacom said at the time. An outage on the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) also compounded South Africa’s internet connectivity issues on January 21.

Amid the latest outage, Seacom is blaming the same construction area in Egypt for the disruption to its broadband network.

"We are now rerouting our paths to get away from this construction area in order to stabilise that path. We're also firing up some more capacity on other systems to get other routes through Egypt,” Segelberg told Fin24.

"It's pretty much about a couple of kilometres worth of construction going along these two particular highways, if you may. So, it's pretty much the same vicinity,” he said of the fibre cuts in Egypt that have caused two disruptions to Seacom in a week.

The latest outage is not only affecting Seacom but also other cables such as the Middle East North Africa (MENA) cable system, said Segelberg.

“It's a multitude of cables that are running on this same path,” he said.

"So, you're looking at almost five cable systems obviously coming East-West and it is not good,” he added.

The chief executive officer of Seacom, Byron Clatterbuck, told Fin24 that there is a “bottleneck” in Egypt when it comes to sub-sea broadband cables.

"The bottleneck of a single point of failure in Egypt has always been a concern. You know, even now, more new cables that are being built are being built to cross Egypt because really there's no other way to get East-West,” he said.

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