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All hail MTN’s speed in fixing cut submarine Fibre cable, but…

By Samuel Dowuona

Enough about fibre cuts on land. Hardly do we hear that the main submarine or undersea fibre optic cables, that provide services to telcos around the world, have been cut. Those ones are not at risk to irresponsible road contractors, real estate developers, thieves and selfish individuals. Those ones are well protected. So it takes something more for any damage to be caused to them.

MTN Ghana has been here for over 10 years and this is the first time we are hearing that their undersea cable has been cut not at one point but two at the same time. MTN has suffered undersea fibre cut before, but never double. This time both their primary and redundant fibres were cut – one in Europe and one in East Africa. So, whereas in the past, the redundant cable kicked in and we never heard of the cut, this time round the redundant cable was also cut. And it happened in Europe and East Africa, not in the seas of Ghana.

It has been three days since we started feeling the effect of the damage. Now the experience has been fully restored as MTN reports 100% resolution. But they are still working on fixing the damaged fibre at very high cost to the partners of that particular fibre.

Without speculating and pretending to know all the technical stuff that goes into fixing such challenges when they occur, one can safely say that under such circumstances, the telcos would most likely switch to a redundant fibre optic cable, which could be any of the independent cables that comes to Ghana or even go on any of the cables belonging to competing telcos, depending on what business arrangement exist at that level.

MTN’s own undersea fibre which lands in Ghana is called WACS, which is the one that has been cut. But other such cables that come to Ghana include Vodafone’s SAT-3, Globacom’s Glo One and MainOne’s MainOne. Expresso also used to land one here in Ghana, but we don’t know what has become of it, since Expresso is now virtually defunct.

So 100 per cent resolution of the MTN challenge could mean a switch to any of these redundant cables, while the WACS is being fixed. But while the switch over is technical seamless, in reality, it takes time for the service running on it to fully stabilize, so customers will continue to experience some challenges and gradual improvement until the service fully stabilizes and optimizes.

MTN has reported that its technical team is on their way to go check exactly what the cause of the cut is – whether it is a ship, submarine, a shark, saboteurs or whatever. Until then, they, and five other telcos in five other countries who were affected, have a huge cost to bear to fix the damaged cable.

*Dowuona, an Accra based media expert, wrote in from Ghana