TEAMS cut again. Another month of slow speeds? Dennis Kioko Mbuvi

April 27, 2012

The East African Marine System, a submarine fiber cable that is the main source of international Internet connectivity that serves Kenya, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Ethiopia, Somalia , some ISPs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and some ISPs in Uganda has suffered yet another fiber cut.

The cut occurred Thursday between 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm , though operators only acknowledged the cut at about 3.00 pm. Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore , said on Twitter “TEAMS has identified where the cable has been cut and it will take some time to fix. Meantime most of our traffic is being re-routed” . Responding as to when the cable would be fixed, Collymore said “ it could take, hours or days?” Weeks probably. We have re-routed most traffic now “.  The cut took place about 3 kilometres in the Ocean from Mombasa.

The 4,500 kilometre cable suffered from a cut on February 25th when a ship dredging the Kilindini harbour cut the cable . The cable’s capacity is 120 Gigabits per second (Gbps) with ability to handle up to 1.2 Terabits per second  (1200 Gbps). It took a month to fix the cable, with repairs completed on 24th March 2012 .

During the previous cut, the repair ship called from Dubai to fix the cable took a while to get here as it had to fix 3 other cables which had suffered cuts in the red sea.  Most Internet providers routed their traffic then through the Seacom cable while others did it on the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy).

Most Internet users suffered from low Internet speeds as the operators replaced their lost capacity with lesser capacity , as other cables are more expensive compared to TEAMS. 1 megabit per second on TEAMS costs less than Ksh 8,000  for the shareholders while the same on other cables can cost upwards of ksh 20,000.

The cut may also take a month to fix as this will involve recalling the same ship from the port of Dubai or getting another ship to fix the cable.
Safaricom and Orange are now routing their traffic through Seacom.

Orange owns capacity on the EASSy cable and the recently launched LION2 cable.

TEAMS is 15 per cent owned by UAE telecommunications firm, Etisalat , with the remaining 85 per cent held by the Kenyan shareholders. 20 per cent of the remaining shareholding is held by the Kenyan government, 20 per cent by Safaricom, 20 per cent by Telkom Kenya/Orange, 10 per cent by Kenya Data Networks, 10 per cent by Essar/Yu, 5 per cent by Wananchi (Zuku) , 3.75 per cent by Jamii Telkom and 1.25 per cent each by Jamii Telecom , Access Kenya, Uganda’s Africa Fibrenet, InHand, iQuip and Flashcom.

Kenya has four sub-marine cables, TEAMS, EASSy, LION2 and Seacom. Seacom is privately owned , LION2 is majority owned by France Telkom, majority shareholder in Orange Kenya while EASSy is owned by a consortium of telecommunication operators in Eastern Africa and a group of investors through the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC).


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