SEACOM Suffers Terrestrial Cable Cuts Leading to Major Outage

With the arrival of 3 sub-marine cables, Kenyans thought that their days of poor internet connections is gone. That has been true to an extent. Only that now the country is experiencing persistent cable cuts affecting business in the country. AccessKenya is the latest victim with its main link cut on Monday and a day later they lost SEACOM backup link.

AccessKenya Group @accesskenyacom

“Kindly note that all our three connections btwn Nrbi & Mombasa have been cut.We suspect sabotage.We will keep you informed.Apologies!”

he company was relying on SEACOM link from Mombasa with the main line through KDN’s underground cable while the backup was through Kenya Power’s overhead lines. Now Access Kenya’s link from Mombasa to Nairobi is completely cut-off. Internet connection in Mombasa is ok.

Orange Kenya has sent out a press release saying that the cut is:

“affecting all internet traffic to Mombasa, GSM, CDMA and PSTN services. Due to traffic congestion customers may also experience interruption while making international calls.

Our technical teams have located the point of break and are on ground undertaking the repairs. Our estimated down time is 2 hrs. We are also currently evaluating alternate routing options aimed at easing the downtime as an interim measure.”

The SEACOM link delivered through the Kenya Power overhead cables was cut after one of the Kenya Power pylons got so weak and fell down while the KDN terrestrial link might have been cut by some contractors who are carrying out road repairs. Now only remaining reliable connection from Mombasa is the national fibre backbone which is owned by the Kenyan government.

Though Access Kenya is saying that its customers in Mombasa are ok, other ISPs are indicating that the cuts might affect the whole country as most of the network monitoring, billing and application systems are sitting in Nairobi and so all might be affected.

EASSy suffered cable cuts on February 17th when a ship dragged its anchor more than 100 metres on the ocean floor, cutting two other cables SEA-ME-WE3 (South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 3) and EIG (Europe India Gateway). The two cables (SEA-ME-WE3 and EIG) does not server Kenya.

Being the largest private shareholder in the TEAMs cable, Safaricom was the most affected then. The company immediately switched to SEACOM and satellite for backup. Airtel Kenya launched its 3G network on 24th February and had to route their traffic through Telkom Kenya’s inland cable.

Safaricom’s Nzioka Waita yesterday indicated that the full repairs of the cut sub-marine cables might be finished by the 24th March. The repairs are carried out by a contractor, eMarine repairs.

With Safaricom serving around 80% of the national internet connection, the country has not felt it much but with now Access Kenya down, we will soon start seeing the effects. Access Kenya serves around 40% of corporate data needs in the country.

Now Safaricom routes its M-Pesa traffic which relies on cloud servers located in UK, through Satellite.

Repairs of terrestrial cables takes just hours meaning that connections might be back by the end of the day. The only problem is with the sub-marine cuts. With two cables affected, a cut on SEACOM’s sub-marine link will be catastrophic. Most ISPs removed all satellite backups.

A fourth cable, LION2 is looking for a landing point at the Coast as the government has issued a directive demanding that future cables should not land at the same point.

UPDATE: Access Kenya is indicating that its link is now back online. I also received information that the vandalism of KDN was carried out at JOMVU. Telkom Kenya’s link affected by excavators.

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