[AfrICANN-discuss] Uganda: Business Bleeds As Internet Cable Fails
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Fri Jul 9 13:58:06 SAST 2010
Uganda: Business Bleeds As Internet Cable Fails
Martin Luther Oketch
9 July 2010
Businesses across the country were yesterday counting their losses after a fault knocked out an undersea cable that brings high-speed internet to the country and most of East Africa.
Banks, cybercafés, telecom companies and other offices were particularly hit by the fault on the Seacom cable which connects Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique to Europe and Asia.
The owners of Seacom said the fault was in a repeater station on the cable, 4.7km beneath the sea surface. They said they had initiated emergency repairs off the Kenyan coast which are expected to take up to eight days but could take up to two weeks.
"This unexpected failure affects traffic towards both India and Europe. Traffic within Africa isn't affected," a statement from Seacom said. Completed in July 2009, the Seacom cable helped bring broadband internet to the region and dramatically reduced connectivity costs.
However, a survey carried out by Daily Monitor yesterday revealed that Internet Service Providers and bandwidth-hungry users had fallen back on satellite connections which are slower and more expensive.
Jackie Namara, the marketing manager at Stanbic Bank Uganda, said the slower internet speeds meant they were spending as many as 30 minutes on tasks that required five minutes with broadband connections. "It is really very frustrating and very annoying because you cannot download or upload a file," she said.
"The slowdown has also slowed down services at the Automated Teller Machines in bank branches," Ms Namara added. "It takes a person one to three minutes to access money using the ATM and the concern is that since we resorted to using satellite which is very expensive to run it might lead to increase in transaction costs."
Mark Tayebwa, who manages a cybercafé on Dewinton Road in Kampala, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the slow speeds had driven away many customers and cost him money.
"Uploading and downloading files is not possible for many people because the speed of the Internet is very slow," he said. "Usually the number of people coming for Internet services in this café is in the range 50 to 60 people, but since morning I have received only 10 people who did not even last for long after discovering that the speed is slow."
At Web City Café, one of the largest Internet cafés in the city, a notice to clients warned of slow speeds due to the damage to the Seacom cable.
Emmy Olaki, a spokesman at Uganda Telecom, said the company had switched back to the slower and more expensive satellite connectivity to keep its customers connected.
This is the second major outage the Seacom cable, which is 15,000km long, has experienced since it went live.
A cable cut in the Mediterranean in 2008 temporarily disrupted up to 70 per cent of internet traffic to Egypt and 60 per cent to India, the BBC reported yesterday.
Source : http://allafrica.com/stories/201007090026.html
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