Cable repair work set to slow down Internet speeds

A man digs up trench to lay fibre optic cable through Nyeri town on October 22, 2012. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI
A man digs up trench to lay fibre optic cable through Nyeri town on October 22, 2012. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI 

Telecommunications firms that connect their international traffic through TEAMs cable will have to look for alternative routes as the undersea cable provider embarks on an eight-week maintenance.

End users are expected to experience slow Internet in the first phase of the maintenance, which will last between Thursday this week and January 15 when the cable will shut down. The cable provides the bulk of international data links to Kenya.

Apart from the government, TEAMs undersea cables connects other providers such as Safaricom, Jamii Telecom, Wananchi Group, Essar Kenya, Kenya Data Networks, Access Kenya, Telkom Orange and Bandwidth & Cloud Services.

The country has three other undersea cables — Seacom, EASSy and LION2 — which affected operators can reroute their traffic to or use satellite connectivity.

To get backup capacity on the undersea cables costs between Sh2.4 million and Sh3.2 million a month. It costs Sh23 million for the same capacity a month through satellite service providers, which some of the operators say is too high.

“Only the first two weeks will have the heaviest impact on traffic with complete downtime (January 3-15),” said Joel Tanui, general manager TEAMs cable. “During this time of complete system downtime, customers are likely to experience slow Internet speeds because of bandwidth constraints as result of limited traffic restoration via other cables.”

Mr Tanui said the estimated cost of the maintenance works on TEAMS cable, including costs for temporary traffic restoration via other cables during the outage will be about $5.6 million (Sh480 million), excluding loss of business as a result of heavily constrained bandwidth supply to contracted customers.

Joshua Chepkwony, chairman Jamii Telecoms Ltd (JTL) said his firm has already made arrangements with other undersea cable providers to offer an alternative route.

“Satellite cannot offer us the guaranteed speeds that we need for our capacity,” said Mr Chepkwony.

This is not the first time TEAMs cable is experiencing interruption. In March last year a ship cut the cable while dropping anchor at the port of Mombasa forcing telecommunications service providers to look for alternative routes to connect their clients to the Internet.

The inland infrastructure has also experienced numerous cuts by vandals and during construction works, affecting businesses that depend on fibre optic cables for their operations.