|Friday, May 24, 2013|
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AFRICA TELECOMS TODAYExtensive Damage to SAT-3
09/30/09, Biodun Omojola
SAT-3, the 15,000 kilometer undersea cable linking parts of Africa to the outside world, has been damaged, causing major disruption to internet access and services in several west African countries, including Benin, Togo, Niger and Nigeria. The damage is reportedly extensive. The cable itself runs between Europe (Portugal and Spain) and South Africa, via west Africa and is currently the only fibre-optic cable serving West Africa.
South African operator Telkom, one of the shareholders of SAT-3, says it's aware of "a cable fault on the Benin branch that is being investigated." Benin is strategic to Nigeria's internet access and services. About 70 percent of its bandwidth is routed through the neighbouring country. The network, run by Suburban Telecom, was set up to bypass Nigeria's national operator NITEL, which runs the SAT-3 branch cable in Nigeria. To solve the problem, the SAT-3 consortium is in the process of sending a ship from South Africa to the area to investigate the fault.
Meanwhile, Benin has been able to reroute its net traffic through neighbouring countries to get back online. Suburban Telecom is hoping to do the same for Nigeria but say the process won't be as rapid as that of the small west African country because bandwidth requirements are so much larger than those of Benin. Use of alternative means - such as satellite links - is currently been tried to maintain connections to the rest of the world, says a Suburban Telecom official. Togo and Niger, which are not part of the SAT-3 consortium, remain offline.
The 15,000km (9,300mile) SAT-3 cable lands in eight west African countries as it winds its way from Europe to South Africa. "The rest of the system is unaffected by this fault," says a representative of Telkom.
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