Communications Authority (CA) Centre. [File, Standard]

The Communications Authority (CA) has cautioned that the internet disruption caused by a cut to the undersea cable last weekend could continue for a few days.

Last Sunday, a drastic internet outage hit several African countries following a cut to two undersea cables that carry data.

The affected submarine cables, the East Africa Submarine System and Seacom, are the main channels for fibre-optic internet that Safaricom, Airtel, and Jamii Telecommunication have invested in across the country.

In an update on Thurdsay, CA Director General David Mugonyi said the Authority appreciates the efforts made by mobile network operators and internet service providers to restore internet services and keep the country connected through the acquisition of additional capacity in other undersea fibre cables.

“While this has led to near-normal services, the backlog generated by the outage might take some time to clear,” Mr. Mugonyi said in a statement.

“We thank industry players for their hard work in ensuring the country remains connected to data services and all consumers for their patience.” In an earlier report, CA said the incident happened off the South African coast.

The Authority said that local internet traffic was using the East Africa Marine System cable that was not affected, but low speeds would continue.

“We wish to inform individual and corporate consumers that the recovery process has since commenced, but internet intermittency and slow speeds may remain in the coming few days before services are fully restored,” it said.

According to communication by Chris Wood, CEO of WIOCC Group, the largest investor in the EASSy cable, the repair time would be dependent on the weather and other factors.

“A cable repair ship based in Cape Town has been mobilized and was to sail on Tuesday morning. Transit to the site will take three days. The repair time will be dependent on weather, sea conditions, and the extent of the damage,” he said in an email.

Cables across the world make more than half a million miles long and carry over 95 per cent of global communications, with five per cent done via satellites. 

Causes and how long will repair take? 

Despite their importance, undersea cables are vulnerable to both accidental damage and deliberate sabotage. 

Common causes of cable damage include ship anchors dragging at the shore and underwater rockfalls that affected West African countries in March.

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