Detailed Update on Undersea Cable Outage and Response Efforts

DetailedUpdate on Undersea CableOutageand ResponseEfforts

Microsoft has reported a setback in the repair operations of four crucial undersea cables that experienced outages around noon last Thursday. The affected cables include the West Africa Cable System (WACS), Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT–3, all of which faced disruptions near Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The precise cause of the outage is still under investigation, with no clear details available about the nature of the incident. WIOCC, a significant entity in the African undersea cable market, has been proactive in addressing the outage. Since its inception in 2010 and the subsequent launch of the East coast cable system EASSy, WIOCC has expanded its footprint to manage a comprehensive network of cables and data centers across Africa. In response to the current crisis, WIOCC is prioritizing the restoration of service for its clients by leveraging alternative subsea systems like EASSy and Equiano, where it holds capacity.

Telkom’s Openserve, the wholesale and networks division, has also acknowledged the cable failures but remains tight-lipped about the outage’s origins, citing the lack of an official statement from the consortium. Despite the disruption, Openserve assures limited impact on its services, attributing this to its diversified international cable investments which have enabled an automatic rerouting of traffic, thus maintaining seamless connectivity for its customers.

Microsoft initially assured its customers of establishing a mitigation strategy by midnight South African time to alleviate service disruptions. Following successful traffic rerouting to stable infrastructure, many users saw an improvement in service. Microsoft’s updates indicated a resolution in sight with service issues ceasing for most users by early Friday morning. However, a subsequent announcement revealed delays in the West Africa fibre cables repair, affecting the final resolution timeline.

In addition to the West African cable issues, ongoing cable cuts in the Red Sea region involving EIG, Seacom, and AAE–1 cables have further strained the network capacity on Africa’s East Coast. These concurrent incidents have resulted in a significant reduction of network capacity across many of Africa’s regions, compounding the connectivity challenges faced by users and service providers.

Despite these setbacks, Microsoft has noted a steady improvement in the region’s overall network health, with many of the previously affected Azure Services returning to normal operational levels. Efforts continue to fully restore and ensure the resilience of the network to prevent future recurrences of such widespread outages.

In summary, the undersea cable outages have presented a considerable challenge to network operations across Africa, prompting immediate action from major stakeholders like Microsoft and WIOCC. With ongoing repair efforts and strategic rerouting of traffic, gradual restoration of services is underway, aiming for a swift and comprehensive resolution to the connectivity issues faced by users across the continent.



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