Due to recent typhoons hitting the SEA region, several undersea cables connecting Asia and other countries that serves as the gateway to the Internet have been cut, leaving most ISPs in the country with slow to non-usable internet connections.
AAG Cable Map
Various news sources mentioned that Asia-American Gateway (AAG), Intra-Asia (IA), ASE (Asia Submarine-cable Express) and SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3), 4 major SEA gateway cables have suffered damages during the past weeks.
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.
Another cable network that was reportedly broken was Tata Global Network’s (TGN) Intra Asia (IA) cable
system. It’s problem was 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-IA Cable Map
Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), on the other hand, had a cut in about 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.
ASE Cable Map
Also, in a report published by ZDNet.com, Vocus Communications has confirmed that the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) subsea cable is also broken between Perth and Singapore.
A statement from Australian operator, Vocus, said “SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable between Perth and Singapore is currently down due to a confirmed cable break. We have received a tentative repair completion of 13th October 2017. However, these dates tend to change over time due to the nature of the fault. Customers can expect to see increased latency to Asian destinations until this link is restored.”
SEA-ME-WE-3 Cable Map
Due to these cable mishaps, almost all Filipino Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and even those from other countries in SEA region have experienced slowdowns caused by the said cable ruptures.
To support this claim, internet service providers such as PLDT, Converge ICT, and Cheetah Broadband, who mainly serve the Rizal area have posted advisories to their users, example of this one is from Converge
ICT, known for their cheap Fiber Optic offerings without data caps (which we love, btw):
“Due to the recent typhoons that hit Hong Kong, please be informed that the submarine fiber optic cable links of our international gateway were damaged. The slowdown in our Internet connection is not only being experienced by us but by all ISPs in the Philippines and this will only improve until the fiber cut is resolved. Multiple fault points have been detected and ALL our providers have initiated their repair process. Estimated repair time is dependent on the availability of submarine cable ships and weather
conditions. To date, our providers have not given an exact lead time to complete the repair as they try
their best to resolve the issue.”
Meanwhile, Globe Telecom via their Facebook page finally speaks out and issued a public advisory, informing the public that they weren’t that much affected of the said damages due to their internet routing measures.
The AAG, ASE, IA and SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) are South East Asia’s primary gateway cables as well as PLDT Inc. had also invested in AAG, ASE and SEA-ME-WE3 cable systems while Globe Telecom invested in Tata Global Network–Intra Asia cable system (TGN-IA).
Adapted from: VN Express, ZDNET, www.snowtechstuff.com
ANALYSIS: It would appear that AAG, ASE, and TGN-IA, all of which land in Hong Kong, were affected by the typhoon while the incident on the Perth-Singapore segment of SEA-ME-WE-3 is separate and coincidental.
The estimated repair date for SEA-ME-WE-3, some 45 days after the fault occurred seems quite pessimistic and is probably only a reflection of the Service Level Agreement with the South East Asia Indian Ocean Cable Maintenance Agreement (SEAIOCMA) under which this cable receives maintenance and repair services. The “ASEAN Explorer” is currently berthed in Merak, Java, Indonesia, away from her home port of Sembawang, Singapore, and is therefore the most likely candidate to have been assigned to repair the
Perth-Singapore segment of SEA-ME-WE-3.
As for the other cables around Hong Kong, the “Cable Retriever” is most certainly involved in the repairs as she is currently “on site” at 22° 10” 01.40’ N, 114° 33” 55.54’ E, just outside Hong Kong.
Other vessels in the area are the “Decisive” (heading to Taichung, Taiwan), “Durable” (en route to Toucheng, Taiwan), “Lodbrog” (en route to Vung Tau, Vietnam), and “Responder” (heading to Taichung, Taiwan).
Nevertheless, it has to be said that, unless “Cable Retriever” has been assigned the task of repairing all three cables, the response to these outages seems to have been quite slow, perhaps as a result of continued bad weather.
Julian Rawle, Author
Thought leadership articles and commentary on developments related to the subsea fibre optic cable industry can be found here.