There has been a break on the WACS (West Africa Cable System) undersea cable which is affecting Internet connectivity in South Africa.

According to a post by TENET, the operating partner of the South African national research and education network, WACS capacity dropped at 23:28 last night.

This will have an impact on South African Internet users, as was the case with the recent WACS and SAT3/WASC cable system breaks.

“With the WACS and continued SAT-3 outages on the east coast, SA NREN users working from home during the lockdown may experience issues if their home providers do not have sufficient capacity via alternate sub-sea cable systems,” said TENET.

It said the WACS break is due to a “complete cable cut on segment 4 at 39.0175Km from SV8 Cable Landing Station”.

“Waiting for confirmation whether SV8 CLS is on the UK or Portugal side or whether this is a terrestrial versus sub-sea break,” it said.

SA NREN has now confirmed that the cut is on the cable belonging to TATA and is between Highbridge (UK) and Seixal (Portugal).

“Information will be imparted as it is received from TATA via our WACS service provider. There is no recent update on this matter further to the one below,” it said.

High impact event

Afrihost has already acknowledged the cable break as a “high impact” event on its status page.

“We are aware that there is current problems with international traffic. This is due to problems on the cables we make use of to send and receive international traffic,” said Afrihost.

“This problem is causing increased latency and slow speeds when accessing international servers and data. Engineers are attending to the problem and hope to have it resolved soon.”

Afrihost then provided an update on the matter.

“Openserve is currently experiencing degraded performance on the WACS portion of their international cabling. The degraded performance is being compounded due to SAT3 also being down.”

The restoration of SAT3 is expected on 2 April 2020, with a cable vessel currently busy with repairs.

“Currently, transit traffic is being carried on SAFE.”

Cable break effects

The last time South Africa was affected by a major cable break was in January, which also involved the WACS international link going down.

This affected customers of numerous South African ISPs.

The impact of a cable break on local Internet service providers depends on their capacity on other cable systems, such as EASSy and Seacom.

If an ISP has sufficient capacity on all the cable systems which land in South Africa – WACS, EASSy, SAT3, SAFE, and Seacom – the impact of a cable break will be minimal.

If an ISP relies solely on WACS for international connectivity, the impact of this break can be severe.

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