Internet outage: Repairing the submarine cable could take two weeks – MainOne


The repair of an underwater cable cut that has caused internet service disruptions in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, and other West African and East African countries since Thursday could take up to two weeks, according to submarine cable company MainOne.

According to the company, a problem on the MainOne network was the reason behind the network outage.

The company said that preliminary findings and additional research showed that the fault happened as a result of an outside event that caused a cut on its submarine cable system in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa, near Cote D’Ivoire.

Due to the disruption, digital transactions and internet communications have been paralysed since Thursday, leaving bank users and telecom subscribers stuck. Mobile network providers such as MTN and certain banks

have attributed the network outage on a subsea cable cut in the Atlantic Ocean.

On how long the outage would last, MainOne said, “We have a maintenance agreement with Atlantic Cable Maintenance and Repair Agreement (ACMA) to provide repair services for the submarine cable.

“First identify and assign a vessel, the vessel has to retrieve the necessary spares required for repair, and then sail to the fault location to conduct the repair work. Next, in order to complete the repair, the affected section of the submarine cable will have to be pulled from the seabed onto the ship where it will be spliced by skilled technicians.

“Post repair, joints will be inspected and tested for any defects and then the submarine cable is lowered back to the seabed and guided to a good position. This process might take 1-2 weeks for repairs while about 2-3 weeks of transit time may be required for the vessel to pick up the spares and travel from Europe to West Africa once the vessel is mobilised.”

On the possible cause of the outage in the sea, the company said, “Most submarine cable faults occur as a result of human activities such as fishing and anchoring in shallow waters near shore, natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, and then equipment failure.

“Given the distance from land, and the cable depth of about 3 kms at the point of fault, any kind of human activity – ship anchors, fishing, drilling etc has been immediately ruled out. Our preliminary analysis would suggest some form of seismic activity on the seabed resulted in a break to the cable, but we will obtain more data when the cable is retrieved during the repair exercise.”

In an update, the company said actions have been taken to mobilise a vessel to expeditiously repair the cable in the deep ocean.

MainOne said restoration capacity for temporary relief would be made available for customers. “While we do have some pre-configured restoration capacity on other cable systems, unfortunately, those cable systems are also down currently. We have since acquired capacity on available cable systems, but we have not found readily available capacity to fully restore services to all our customers.”

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