Internet speed in Vietnam has been hampered following a series of problems along three separate submarine cable systems of the country starting on the morning of January 8, 2017, local media reported, quoting internet provider VNPT Vinaphone. This is the first time that the Asia America Gateway (AAG) has been disrupted this year following several ruptures last year.
Figure 1 - AAG Network Map
Source: AAG Consortium
VNPT Vinaphone said the disruption was triggered by power loss recorded along a section of the Asia America Gateway (AAG) off the southern Vietnamese town of Vung Tau, without saying when it will be fixed.
Vietnamese service providers have been trying to ease their reliance on the AAG in recent years. The 20,000-kilometer system, installed in 2009, has broken or been shut down for maintenance many times since 2011.
A new undersea cable costing $450 million connecting Vietnam with neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region was officially fired up on January 3, promising internet speed twice as fast.
However, the new cable has already experienced a number of issues, prompting operators to conduct maintenance work only a few days after it opened. The Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) Submarine Cable linking Japan with Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam took four years to complete.
Figure 2 - APG Network Map
NEC, a Japanese IT corporation, finished construction of the cable last November. The cable, with a total length of around 10,900 kilometers, passes through Vietnam’s central city of Da Nang.
The TGN-Intra Asia (TGN-IA) cable network was broken on the morning of January 10, 2017, compromising services provided by Internet operators in Vietnam, especially Viettel, the state-owned enterprise, managed by the Ministry of National Defense, which is heavily reliant on this system.
Figure 3 - TGN-IA Network Map
Source: Tata Communications
The TGN-IA underwater cable system was launched in late 2009 by Tata Communications, connecting Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.
Speaking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, representatives from local service providers said the problem would not last long thanks to back-up connections. Accordingly, VNPT-VinaPhone redirected its traffic to the China-Southeast Asia Terrain Cable System (CSC), and the SMW3 (Southeast Asia - Middle East - Western Europe 3). A representative from Viettel also said that the firm had utilized its back-up systems as soon as the problem along the TGN-IA network was detected.
Adapted from : vnexpress.net & tuoitrenews.vn
ANALYSIS: Outages on AAG affecting Vietnamese Internet users have been frequently highlighted in this report over the years but this is the first time that Vietnam has been affected by a triple failure. Figure 4 below shows the impact of these cable outages on one of Viettel's customers, Saigon Postel:
The initial outage on AAG can clearly be seen in the early hours of 1/8, with further disruption occurring on APG and TGN-IA from 1/10-1/12.
A triple fault on cables serving one market is highly unusual and comes at a time when three cables serving India also went down simultaneously (see "Damage to Indian Submarine Cable Hits Bangladesh Internet Speed" below). However, there is no suggestion of malicious activity. Vietnam has just been incredibly unlucky.
Given the poor track record of AAG in particular, it is not surprising to see that Vietnamese operators have made restoration arrangements on a terrestrial cable via China although the cost and latency penalty of using this route will be high. The use of SEA-ME-WE-3 for restoration must be limited since this cable is already full on most of the main trunk segments.
The CS "Lodbrog", on long-term charter to Alcatel Submarine Networks from Orange Marine, arrived off the coast of Vietnam on January 11, 2017 and spent 23 days effecting repairs before returning to her home port of Taichung, Taiwan. TE SubCom's "Resolute" was mobilized from Taichung on January 20, 2017 and spent 30 days operating in the East China Sea. Given the location of the cables in question, it is likely that "Lodbrog" dealt with AAG and TGN-IA, while "Resolute" addressed the issue on APG.
Julian Rawle, Author
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