Huge internet connectivity outage across SA

Scores of internet users were unable to access some online services following an internet outage on Thursday.

Scores of internet users were unable to access some online services following an internet outage on Thursday.

Published Mar 15, 2024


Scores of internet users were unable to access some online services following an internet outage on Thursday.

Vodacom informed their customers on social media about the current internet issues and warned that customers may experience issues due to failures of undersea cables.

“Certain customers are currently experiencing intermittent connectivity issues due to multiple undersea cable failures which has affected network providers in the country,” said the telecommunications company.

Microsoft Azure said that customers using Azure Services in South Africa, North and South Africa West may experience increased network latency or drops when accessing their resources.

Microsoft said that they have determined that multiple fibre cables on the West Coast of Africa have been impacted, which reduced their total capacity to supporting regions in South Africa.

Downdetector, a network monitoring site, showed an increase in the number of outages that were reported for Microsoft Azure, Vodacom and Microsoft Teams.

The reports of outages started around 12.30pmon Thursday.

In 2023, internet users in South Africa were affected by poor internet service following a rock fall in the Congo Canyon which caused a break in the WACS and SAT-3 undersea fibre cables.

At the time, Vodacom said that customers would be impacted by disruptions in traffic flow due to the damage done to the undersea cables.

It is understood that the West African Cable System is one of the cables now affected.

In August last year, two subsea cables were cut off the coast of West Africa. The West Africa Cable System (WACS) and the South Atlantic 3 (SAT-3/WASC) undersea cables reportedly suffered breaks between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon due to two separate rock falls in the Congo Canyon.

At the time, Telkom’s wholesale fixed-line division Openserve confirmed the issue.

“Openserve can confirm the breaks of the WACS and SAT-3 undersea cables. We are collaborating with the consortium partners to facilitate the restoration of these cables. The impact on our network is limited to customers on the international private leased circuits (IPLC) services,” the company had said.

“The Openserve network remains robust due to our investment in other international cable capacity, hence all Openserve IP Transit services (WebReach) traffic have been automatically re-routed, ensuring our customers stay seamlessly connected.”

According to reports, Congo Canyon is a submarine canyon found at the end of the Congo River in Africa.

It is one of the largest submarine canyons in the world, reaching depths of 1 100 meters and widths of up to 14km.

Laid in 2012, the 14 500km WACS cable runs from South Africa to the UK, calling at 12 countries en route. Owned by a consortium of 12 carriers including MTN and Vodacom, it has a total design capacity of 14.5 Tbps.

The 130 00km SAT-3/WASC cable, laid in 2001, connects South Africa to Spain and Portugal and lands at eight other countries en route. SAT-3 has a capacity of 340 Gbps and is owned by a consortium of operators including Orange, AT&T-owned TCI, Sonatel, and Telcom.

The two cables previously broke off the coast of Gabon in 2020.

The Mercury