Cape Town’s gale-force winds have not only caused problems for those whose homes were damaged, but is also halting the efforts to repair the damaged undersea internet cable that is the cause of the poor internet connection all of us have been experiencing.
Slow internet speeds have been reported across the country, especially when connecting to international sites. These slow connections are the result of cable breaks in international links that service South Africa, and these affect the WACS and SAT3/WASC systems. The South Atlantic 3/West Africa (SAT-3/Wasc) submarine cable links Portugal and Spain to South Africa, and the West Africa Cable System (Wacs) links South Africa with the United Kingdom.
According to the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), the ship which is tasked with repairing the breaks has not been able to leave the Cape Town harbour as a result of the strong winds.
“Winds persist in Cape Town which is delaying the departure of other vessels in addition to the cable repair vessel,” TENET said on Sunday evening.
The international cable break is affecting some of South Africa’s largest ISPs, including Webafrica, Afrihost, Mind The Speed and Axxess. Many of the ISPs have updated their network status to reflect that the cable outages are the cause of their slow international connections.
To combat this, Afrihost has purchased international bandwidth on other undersea cables in an attempt to restore its internet services.
“This is in addition to our existing failover capacity. This means that we will not be reliant on repairs to the damaged cables to deliver better international speeds and latency,” it said in a statement.
Currently, Cape Town’s winds are only expected to ease up on Tuesday, January 21, and then the ship will be able to make its way to the coast of Congo to begin repairs.
Some internet users reported being unable to access Twitter over the weekend, while others reported their WhatsApp was acting up. Others reported that while they were able to stream from popular streaming platform Netflix, they experienced frequent buffering on YouTube. Users in Botswana also reported they were unable to access Twitter.
Namibia is reported to have its global internet connection restored on Saturday, January 18, but it is still unclear on how Telecom Namibia is doing so as its cables are not yet repaired.
It is not clear how long the repairs will take, but some reports are hinting that the problem may persist until February.