Massive internet breaks also hits SA

A significant Internet outage has struck South Africa, affecting numerous users throughout the country. This outage encompasses a complete lack of Internet connectivity and disruptions to various online services.

Reports indicate that multiple undersea cable outages near Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, including the West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3 cables, are responsible for the downtime. Darren Bedford, the business development head of the WIOCC group, confirmed that several undersea cables along the West African coast are experiencing outages. However, it’s noted that capacity on the Equiano and EASSy cables remains unaffected, ensuring continuity for their customers.

Vodacom, one of the network providers in South Africa, has also acknowledged the impact of the undersea cable outages on their services, leading to intermittent connectivity issues for certain customers.

The outage began on Thursday, March 14, 2024, around 12:30 PM.

Various sources, including Downdetector, have observed a significant increase in reports of issues affecting websites, apps, and network providers offering data services. Many Vodacom customers have reported mobile data outages across different parts of the country, although voice networks remain operational.

Numerous high-profile online services such as FNB, LinkedIn, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Xbox, have been affected, with users experiencing difficulties accessing them. Additionally, broadband users from various providers, including Mweb, Openserve, Seacom, Telkom, Vodacom, Vumatel, and Vox, have reported problems with Internet access.

Microsoft Azure services in South Africa have been disrupted, impacting Microsoft Office 365 customers who are unable to access cloud-hosted services. Azure portal, hosted services, and health pages were inaccessible, prompting investigations into the networking issue causing the outages.

Microsoft has acknowledged the issue and attributed it to multiple cable outages, affecting its regions in South Africa. Redirecting traffic is being undertaken to mitigate the impact of the outage.

Furthermore, South African payment provider Yoco has cited the network issue with Microsoft Azure as the reason for being unable to process payments, indicating the widespread impact of the outage on various sectors.

Amidst the widespread Internet outage in South Africa, users and businesses are grappling with the ramifications of disrupted connectivity. With reliance on digital platforms for communication, commerce, and daily tasks, the outage poses significant challenges across various sectors.

For businesses, especially those heavily dependent on online transactions and cloud-based services, the outage translates to financial losses and operational disruptions. From e-commerce platforms struggling to process orders to remote teams unable to collaborate effectively through cloud-based productivity tools, the outage underscores the vulnerability of digital infrastructure.

Education is another sector profoundly affected by the outage. With many schools and universities relying on online platforms for virtual learning, students and educators find themselves unable to access course materials, participate in virtual classrooms, or submit assignments. This disruption not only impedes academic progress but also highlights the digital divide, as students from less privileged backgrounds may lack alternative means to continue their education offline.

Healthcare services also face challenges as telemedicine platforms become inaccessible and electronic health records become temporarily unavailable. Patients relying on remote consultations or accessing medical information online may experience delays or disruptions in care, underscoring the critical need for reliable digital infrastructure in healthcare delivery.

Furthermore, the outage sheds light on the importance of redundancy and resilience in Internet infrastructure. While undersea cables are vital for international connectivity, relying solely on them leaves countries vulnerable to single points of failure. Moving forward, policymakers and industry stakeholders may need to explore diversifying Internet connectivity options, such as satellite and terrestrial alternatives, to enhance resilience and minimize the impact of future outages.

In the midst of the outage, communities come together to support one another. From sharing offline resources and information through traditional communication channels to offering assistance to those most affected by the disruption, the collective response highlights the resilience and adaptability of South African society in the face of adversity.

As efforts to restore connectivity continue, the outage serves as a wake-up call for stakeholders to invest in robust Internet infrastructure, address vulnerabilities, and prioritize digital inclusivity. By learning from this experience and implementing proactive measures, South Africa can better prepare for future challenges and ensure that all its citizens have access to reliable and resilient digital services.

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