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EASSy subsea cable bosses speak out on why Somalia’s internet and international voice traffic was cut off from the world

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Somalia’s internet and international voice traffic was cut off in late July as a result of a shunt fault that occurred on the EASSy subsea cable along the Somali segment of the cable.

The EASSy Management Committee has now spoken out about the incident. In a statement sent to the media, it said: “On Sunday, 26th July 2020 at 07:38 UTC, a shunt fault occurred on the EASSy subsea cable along the Somali segment of the cable, affecting all traffic originating and terminating in Mogadishu as well as some traffic passing through on the EASSy system. As a result, Somalia’s internet and international voice traffic was cut off.” 

A shunt fault occurs when the cable insulation becomes damaged. This can lead to a short circuit from the metallic, power-carrying core of the cable directly to the seawater. 

The EASSy management team explained that such damage could result from a number of causes including ship anchors, trawler nets, dredgers or currents dragging the cable along the seafloor. It could also result from geological activity such as rockfalls or earthquakes. 

“At this stage, is has not been possible to determine what exactly caused the damage resulting in this shunt fault,” the committee said. 

It added: “Following the outage, Dalkom Somalia, the EASSy landing party in Somalia, immediately initiated investigations to determine the cause and location of the outage. The shunt fault was identified to be approximately 27km offshore from the Mogadishu Cable Landing Station, at a water depth of approximately 600m. This fault being on the Somalia branch meant there was no major impact on services to other countries served by the EASSy cable. 

“Service was restored by undertaking a Branching Unit (BU) switch which required temporary reconfiguration of the system power set-up, with traffic clearing from 13:52 UTC on 27th July 2020. Although this has been effective in restoring services, it is an emergency fix.

“EASSy has a number of ships contracted on a standby basis to undertake off-shore repairs for any faults affecting the cable. A suitable repair ship has been secured and is being mobilised to undertake permanent repair of the shunt fault off Mogadishu.”

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