The way forward from SEACOM’s second major outage.

Its been a great day in Mombasa today where I met a new client and also took in the old sights and sounds of my home town. Mombasa has so much culture and history to it and its often possible to lose touch with the same as one works the daily grind in fast and furious Nairobi. It was interesting to be next to the beach and view the expansive Indian Ocean which prompted me to make this post as I wait to catch my flight back to Nairobi.

News has (now) come to light today that SEACOM may be down till the 22nd July 2010. The current outage on SEACOM has massively disrupted Internet connectivity, especially in South Africa where MWEB and Internet Solutions (IS) have been using the undersea cable almost exclusively. The truth is Kenya hardly felt the SEACOM speed bump since we have the back-up of another high speed undersea cable – TEAMS.

As I looked out to the Indian Ocean today it was interesting to imagine all the high speed undersea cables that now connect Africa to the rest of the world. However, as the SEACOM outage of the past week or so continues, it becomes strikingly clear that we need more high speed undersea cables in Africa to ensure redundant routes when one of them inevitably fails. I find it hard to imagine that any Internet Service Provider (ISP) would still use one cable almost exclusively to the detriment of their customers.

The current SEACOM outage is the second major one since April 2010 when it went down for the better part of a week. Therefore, considering that EASSy will be going live in a month or so, we can expect that this will push customers to them for additional bandwidth beyond SEACOM. It also goes to show that high speed undersea cables are indeed not immune to failure and the more we have of them the better for all of us. Ultimately, more cables means more reliable International bandwidth.

However, as Africa gets even more connected and broadband becomes the order of the day, it also becomes key that we have better Intra-Africa bandwidth that relies on national fibre backbones as well as satellite bandwidth, when required. The idea in this respect is that more and more bandwidth can be kept local and regional by bypassing the undersea cables as and when required in and within Africa – we don’t have to be completely and hopelessly cut-off when the cables do fail.

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  1. July 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm — Reply

    Great post Moses! With business and individuals increasingly relying on the Internet, backbone providers need to work together and look at creating redundancies that will enhance their service to customers. Another 12 days for the Seacom link to be up will be quite costly for them.

  2. Noah Ogori
    July 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    Moses – Good article! We honestly look forward to more reliable international connectivity. And for those providers without redundancy, their customers are keenly watching! Competition will work against then.

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