Connectivity providers scramble to keep Africa connected

Connectivity providers scramble to keep Africa connected

Given the recent damage to many of the subsea cables that provide connectivity to Africa, major connectivity providers have been swift to respond.

On Africa’s western seaboard, the WACS, ACE, Main One and SAT3 subsea systems have reportedly been affected by an undersea rock fall near Ivory Coast that occurred on 14th March. Prior to this in February, the AAE-1, EIG, and SEACOM cables – which connect the east coast of Africa to Europe – were disrupted, allegedly by the Houthis.

WIOCC CEO Chris Wood talked up the response from the backbone provider, noting that its engineers had activated 2Tbps of capacity across the unaffected cables in its network to support the capacity needs of other network operators and hyperscalers.

Wood claimed that the WIOCC core backbone’s scale and redundancy would insulate any clients connected directly to Open Access Data Centres (OADC) data centres in South Africa and Nigeria from the subsea outages. He noted that the Equiano cable, in which WIOCC owns a fibre pair, has not been affected by the incident and was helping WIOCC to restore services to facilities suffering outages in Lagos and across the continent.

Edward Lawrence of the Workonline Group, a wholesale IP transit services provider, noted that the cable breaks on both sides of the continent have highlighted the issue of the lack of capacity, which are further complicated by the time it takes to not only repair submarine cables, but also to lay new infrastructure.

“Due to our investment in Africa and abroad we are able to be more nimble than most and can increase our undersea capacity at speed”, said Lawrence. “We’ve designed our network to be as resilient as possible, acquiring capacity on the most stable routes we can find. Incremental capacity, or augments as they are referred to, require us to acquire hundreds of Gbps of capacity at a time.”

CMC Networks noted that the event underscored the vulnerabilities of submarine cables, and noted that by using multiple submarine cable systems it was able to bypass the outage by diverting traffic onto optimum routes.

The provider has added Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellite connectivity to its portfolio of solutions, with CEO Marisa Trisolino noting: “The recent damage to subsea cables and the subsequent disruption to businesses across South Africa has highlighted the need for a wide variety of connectivity options and digital infrastructure that has the resiliency to ensure business continuity during unforeseen events. Our satellite solutions enable service providers and enterprises to manage risk and maximise uptime.”

CMC Networks CTO Geoff Dornan added: “Recent outages show that service providers and enterprises need diverse connectivity options. Networking is mission critical and networking strategies must include multiple backup connectivity that can be delivered with a simple and seamless model. Our network supports a wide range of LEO, MEO and GEO use cases across Africa and the Middle East which is a real value-add for customers looking to add additional redundancy to their networks.”


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