Sunday, February 26, 2012

Submarine cable cut cripples Kenya's Internet

Update: It seems that the cable got cut due to a ship that illegally anchored off the Mombasa coast in a restricted via which the TEAMs and EASSy cables make their terrestrial landing. Both cables have been severed. SEACOM is still up and should be carrying most traffic for the region at the present. A fourth cable, LION, which will link the Indian Ocean islands (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion) should be going live in the course of March. It is expected that the repair to the TEAMs cable will take about 7 days

While details surrounding the circumstances and exact time that the TEAMs cable got damaged are as yet unclear, the incident has severely affected Internet services in Kenya and neighboring countries.

The East African Marine Systems - commonly known as TEAMs was a project initiated by the Kenyan government and implemented as a public private partnership consisting mostly of Kenyan network operators. The 1.3 Terabit system, which launched with a lit capacity of 120 Gigabits has completely transformed the quality and performance of Internet services in the sub-region.

It seems that the cable cut occurred at some point around mid-day on Saturday the 25th of February and was noticeable via most mobile operators and Internet service providers' services being unavailable.
Immediate efforts to seek backup services from SEACOM, another submarine cable that serves the region as well as backup satellite connections resulted in partial restoration of services, although for some Internet customers these came as late as Sunday morning.

It is reported that the cable cut has occurred about 4 kilometers into the ocean on the Kenyan side. The cable which links Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa to Fujairah in the Middle East, interconnects with a
variety of other International submarine cable systems to link Africa's eastern seaboard to the rest of the world.

This first major incident will be a true test of the fault response and repair capabilities of Alcatel, the organization that holds the maintenance and support contract for TEAMs.


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