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CABLE CUT: Telcos Assures Restoration Of 100% Voice, Data Service Today


The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria has said voice and data services affected by the cut in the undersea fibre optics along the coasts of Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal will be completely restored on Tuesday (today).

The Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, made this disclosure in an interview on Monday.

Last Thursday, cuts in the undersea cable supplying broadband Internet connectivity to Nigeria and countries in the West African sub-region forced many banks, financial institutions, telecom companies, and allied firms to scale down their operations.

The cable companies affected include the West African Cable System and African Coast to Europe on the West Coast route from Europe, both of which have experienced faults. Additionally, SAT3 and MainOne have reported downtime due to the cable cut.

Over the weekend, the telcos, banks, and other financial institutions rerouted their traffic to alternative service providers in a move to mitigate the impact of the disruption. While some providers had confirmed the gradual restoration of services, others were still in the process of migration, leading to ongoing delays and congestion.

On Monday, the Nigerian Communications Commission announced in a statement that services had been restored to approximately 90 per cent of their peak utilisation capacities.

The statement read in part, “Following the disruption on March 14, 2024, which affected data and voice services due to cuts in undersea fibre optics along the coasts of Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, we are pleased to announce that services have now been restored to approximately 90 per cent of their peak utilization capacities.

“All operators who were impacted by the cuts have taken recovery capacity from submarine cables that were not impacted by the cuts and have thus recovered approximately 90 per cent of their peak utilisation capacities.

“Mobile Network Operators have assured the Commission that data and voice services would operate optimally pending full repairs of the undersea cables as they have managed to activate alternative connectivity to bring the situation back to normalcy.

“We extend our appreciation to telecom consumers for their patience and understanding during the downtime caused by the undersea fibre cuts,” the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Reuben Muoka, noted.

Speaking with The PUNCH, Adebayo expressed confidence that services would be back in full operation by Tuesday, underscoring the substantial efforts undertaken to minimise the disruption’s impact.

He said, “From the progress we have seen, services will be restored completely tomorrow (Tuesday). We are almost there. There are many submarine cables routed to Nigeria. Some are routed through the Ivory Coast and Senegal. Others are routed in other directions. So, that incident was an incident affecting that particular route.

“The other operators not following that route were not affected. So, they improvised an alternate route. It could have also been the other way, with other people routing their traffic the other way. Its actually a common thing in network planning.”

According to Adebayo, none of the telcos operating in Nigeria are exempted from the disruption; however, the degree of impact remains different.

The chairman stated, “Every telco was affected by the cable cut because it was a major link to Nigeria. The degree of the impact may differ for network providers. All communications in West Africa were affected. There was no exemption. It’s not just Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, disclosed plans to spearhead a global collaboration aimed at enhancing the protection of undersea cables.

Tijani said there was a need to review international laws and foster partnerships with regional and global bodies to accelerate efforts to safeguard this vital infrastructure.

The minister had acknowledged the role of the NCC alongside Globacom, West Indian Ocean Cable Company, MTN, and MainOne to swiftly resolve the issues.

According to him, the initiative marks a significant step towards ensuring the resilience and reliability of undersea cables, crucial lifelines in today’s interconnected world.

The minister said submarine cable cuts, while disruptive, were proving to be a catalyst for resilience and growth in our digital economy.

Apart from the telcos, cable company MainOne was also hit by the disruption in services. Most of the Nigerian banks rely on MainOne for Internet services.

It said on Friday that the repair process for its damaged submarine cable may take up to five weeks.

The firm revealed that it had a maintenance agreement with Atlantic Cable Maintenance and Repair Agreement to provide repair services for its submarine cable.

The repair procedure involves inspecting and testing the cable joints for defects, followed by lowering the cable back to the seabed and guiding it to an optimal position.