The vital West African Cable System (WACS), the key undersea connector to data, internet and telephony, is broken.
The result is extremely low internet speeds in South Africa and other nearby nations who were dependent on WACS. The WACS cable is some 14,530 kms in length and comprises four fibre-pairs linking Yzerfontein in the Western Cape of South Africa and London. It has 14 landing points in all, including the Canary Islands, Angola, Lagos, Ghana, Abidjan and Portugal.
As one report summed up the situation, the break has come at the “worst possible time” given the extra demand from consumers. Moreover, the East Coast undersea link, SAT-3 is also suffering outages.
South Africa has other international sea-cable links, but losing these two places greater strain on the whole system given that many ISPs depend wholly on WACS.
Angola Cables, which is a member of the WACS consortium of operators, is routing some traffic from Angola to Brazil and then onward to the US, for example.
Seacom, which operates its cables along the east coast between South Africa and Europe and South Africa and India, said that while the repairs on the WACS system are being planned, many Internet service providers will be rerouting their traffic. The Seacom system is currently working well.