Tech the Truth

Southeast Asia Suffers Slow Internet Due to Broken Undersea Cables

Damaged fiber optic cables caused slow internet in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy of TeleGeography, PriMetrica, Inc. and Huawei Marine.

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Manila, Philippines (September 2, 2017, Updated 12:30 pm) – Several undersea fiber optic cable breaks caused slow internet connection in Southeast Asia (SEA) over the last couple of days, affecting most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the region, including the Philippines.

According to reports from international news agencies and technology websites, the SEA’s Asia-American Gateway (AAG), Intra Asia (TGN-IA) and SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) submarine cable systems all encountered problems afternoon of August 27, 2017.

A cut in Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE) was also reported by Converge ICT, an end-to-end fiber technology provider in the Philippines.

The exact cause of the problems remains unknown, but two tropical storms that hit the region over the past week are the most likely culprits, according to experts.

In the past, underwater cables were known to be damaged accidentally by shipping vessels and even sharks.

Customers are expected to see increased latency to Asian destinations and experience slower internet services until these links are restored.

Philippine ISP Advisories

While local and minor ISPs immediately issued advisories, there was a delayed reaction from the country’s two largest telecommunications companies.

PLDT already issued an advisory 9 am today while Globe has yet to issue any confirmation regarding the recent submarine cable breaks and the impact on its data services.

PLDT Inc. has stake in AAG, ASE and SEA-ME-WE3 cable systems while Globe Telecom invested in Tata Global Network–Intra Asia cable system (TGN-IA).

Converge ICT Solutions immediately issued advisories on August 28, 2017 and another update on September 1, 2017 after receiving complaints from its subscribers.

Converge ICT owns the country’s third largest fiber network next to PLDT and Globe.

Converge ICT advisory (August 28, 2017)
Converge ICT advisory (September 1, 2017)

Meanwhile, a local internet service provider in Rizal, Cheetah Broadband also posted an advisory for their subscribers, as captured by one Reddit user from their cable provider.

Cheetah Broadband advisory. Photo courtesy of cmcd_x86 (Reddit)

Asia-America Gateway (AAG)

The Thanh Nien News of Vietnam reported that operator Asia-America Gateway (AAG) Cable System has confirmed the breakage occurred on Monday in the Vietnamese section of the cable which slowed the internet to Vietnam and Hong Kong.

AAG is believed to have been broken at two spots around 66 kilometers and 85 kilometers from the cable landing station in Hong Kong.

The AAG is a 20,000-km, high-bandwidth fiber optic submarine cable system that connects Southeast Asia to the United States.

It provides connectivity between Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Hong Kong SAR, Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and the US West Coast and seamless interconnection with other major cable systems connecting Europe, Australia, other parts of Asia and Africa.

Asia America Gateway (AAG) Cable Map. Submarine Cable Map courtesy of TeleGeography, PriMetrica, Inc. and Huawei Marine.

The latest update regarding the most recent damage to the cable suggests that it could be more than one month before the cable is fully repaired and internet access returned to normal in Vietnam.

This isn’t the first time the underwater cable, operated by AAG has ruptured.

Back in September 2014, Thailand and other countries in the region suffered weeks of slow internet access while particular breakage is being repaired.

Tata Global Network-Intra Asia (IA)

The Tata Global Network (TGN) Intra Asia (IA) cable system was reportedly broken.

IA’s problem was reported to be a rupture about 54 kilometers from Hong Kong.

The 6.7-kilometer IA undersea cable system was officially launched in November 2009, connecting Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan to the United States.

TGN Intra Asia (IA) Cable Map. Submarine Cable Map courtesy of TeleGeography, PriMetrica, Inc. and Huawei Marine.

Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE)

In a Facebook post of Converge ICT, the company said there’s a cut in 7,500 kilometers Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE).

The fiber break was detected 63.5 kilometers from its landing station based in Hong Kong.

ASE is owned by NTT, PLDT, Telekom Malaysia and Starhub connecting Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.

Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE). Submarine Cable Map courtesy of TeleGeography, PriMetrica, Inc. and Huawei Marine.

SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) Cable System

In a report by ZDNet.com, Vocus Communications has confirmed that the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) subsea cable is down between Perth and Singapore due to a break in the line.

The cable system which is being used to provide internet services in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe should be repaired tentatively by October 13, according to Vocus.

Vocus incident report.

The SMW3 also suffered an outage due to the cable being severed back in 2013.

SEA-ME-WE3 Cable Map. Submarine Cable Map courtesy of TeleGeography, PriMetrica, Inc. and Huawei Marine.

Several networks are working on constructing a replacement cable system for the SMW3 which currently carries data traffic beween Australia and Singapore.

Vocus said Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) will be completed ahead of schedule and already operational by July 2018. [techthetruth]



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