19 February 2020 

South Africa’s international connectivity fully restored

In the early hours of this morning (approximately 01:30) Openserve received confirmation, from aboard cable ship Leon Thevenin, that the portion of the SAT3/WASC repair offshore Congo has now been completed. This concludes a long and complex restoration process of an unprecedented simultaneous cable break of two Atlantic Ocean based submarine cable systems – the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT3/WASC) and the West African Cable System (WACS).

This catastrophe, that caused South African internet users reduced speed on international browsing and impacted international voice calling and mobile roaming, occurred in the early hours of 16 January 2020. South Africans can now breathe a sigh of relief as international connectivity capacity returns to normal.

The Maintenance and Operations Sub-Committees of both cable consortia had tasked their respective restoration processes to a single Chief of Mission on the Leon Thevinin.  The vessel departed Cape Town Harbour on the evening of Wednesday, 22 January, and has been out on open water effecting the repair processes, at multiple break locations, since. The ship will now proceed to its next location, offshore Ghana, to undertake a power-related (shunt fault) repair on the WACS cable. This fault is not affecting traffic on WACS. If conditions allow, the entire mission is still set to be completed around 25 February with the vessel returning to dock in Cape Town.

In the early stages of the repair mission, Openserve’s Global Capacity team concluded commercial deals with several parties as a measure to minimise some of the impact on its network, and that of its clients’. As part of its internal close-out procedure the relevant teams in Openserve will, over the next few weeks, analyse the full impact of this unusual dual break on its international connectivity capacity. This exercise will be conducted with a view to minimising, and possibly mitigating, the impact on the South African broadband eco-system should the country find itself dealing with a similar catastrophic event in future.

Openserve is grateful that the submarine cables have been returned to full capacity. The infrastructure provider thanks its clients for the patience exercised during this time and is most pleased that it could collaborate with industry partners and other cable consortiums to minimise the impact as much as it did.