The cable breaks we reported earlier this week are still disrupting communications in parts of Africa and will do so for a while – but help is on the way, according to regional press reports.
The two cables are the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable (SAT3/WASC) and the West African Cable System (WACS), both of which run from Africa to Europe.
The cable vessel Leon Thevenin was dispatched by the Maintenance and Operations Sub-Committees of the SAT3/WASC and WACS consortia due to the simultaneous dual cable break, which occurred in the early hours of 16 January.
It now appears that the cable vessel was delayed by bad weather but departed Cape Town harbour on 22 January and is heading for offshore Angola, where it will support repair work on the damaged undersea cables.
The vessel is expected to reach its first repair site on 28 January, “weather conditions permitting”, according to Openserve, South Africa’s largest telecommunications infrastructure provider and infrastructure provisioning division of South African operator Telkom. Telkom/Openserve is one of the equity partners in the groups that own the submarine cable systems.
The breaks affect clients connected to Openserve's network, which includes many local internet service providers, whose customers are now experiencing reduced speed on international browsing. The slowdown has also affected international voice calling and mobile roaming.
Even after the vessel arrives, repairs may take another week – meaning it could be as long as two weeks before full capacity is restored.
The cable break is said by some commentators to be as deep as 3,750 metres below sea level.