Photo : Tony Stoddard - Unsplash

Cameroon and several African countries disconnected due to faulty submarine cables📵

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Since March 14, Internet users in Cameroon have been finding it harder than usual to connect to the Internet. The reason is a break in the submarine cables.

Several submarine cables damaged ⚓

Submarine fiber optic telecommunication cables are an essential part of the global communications infrastructure. They enable high-speed data transfer over long distances across oceans (see map below). For example, if you want to connect to Facebook, your phone sends a request to your operator via the mobile network. The operator then picks up your request and transmits it to Facebook’s servers in the USA, via the aforementioned undersea cables. So, if one of these cables breaks, the mobile network may work, but you won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

The recent disruption to the mobile network in Cameroon is due to a failure affecting several submarine cables. According to a press release from Cameroon’s Telecommunications Regulatory Board, the SAT3, WACS and MAIN ONE cables are affected. These three cables stretch over thousands of kilometers, serving several countries along the West African coast and connecting to Europe, notably Spain, the UK and France. The cause of the incident is not yet known, and investigations are ongoing. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission,

The cuts occurred somewhere in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, with an attendant disruption in Portugal.

Many countries affected 📵

Unfortunately, Cameroon is not the only country affected. As mentioned earlier, these cables cross many countries. According to Cloudflare, a company specializing in network infrastructures, 10 other African countries are affected. These are mainly countries in Central and West Africa. They include Gambia, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Togo and South Africa (VODACOM).

However, not all countries were affected in the same way. Some suffered disruption for only a few minutes, while others remained heavily affected until Friday morning. Some experts speculate that an initial incident, such as a cable break caused by a ship’s anchor or movement of the seabed, may have taken place. Then, as traffic was redirected to the other available cables, a series of technical anomalies would have occurred due to the sudden overloading of the latter.

Investigations are still underway, and operators are working to redirect traffic in order to restore service.



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