Cable fault disconnects West Africa

July 31, 2009 | 15:46

Tags: #internet #undersea-cable

Companies: #sat-3-consortium

A major break in an undersea cable has left large parts of West Africa without an Internet connection.

As reported by the BBC, the break in the SAT-3 undersea cable - running from Portugal to South Africa via West Africa - has resulted in the loss of around 70 percent of the bandwidth available to West Africa, leaving many without any connection at all.

Ladi Okuneye, the chief marketing officer of West African Suburban Telecom, explained that the damaged cable was "the only fibre optic cable serving West Africa," meaning that "all West African countries have to use it."

The consortium behind the SAT-3 cable is due to dispatch a repair vessel to investigate the fault in the 15,0000km cable, but state that it could be two weeks before the ship is in place and repairs can begin.

The fault has resulted in many West African countries scrabbling to put agreements in place with their neighbours to reroute traffic, and several countries - including Togo and Niger - are still offline with no agreements in place.

It is not known what exactly has caused the damage in the Benin branch of the cable, but it's not unheard of for incautious ships to cause cables to move enough to crack.

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