Repairs on the faulty section of the SEACOM submarine fiber-optic cable will be completed by July 22, though initial reports indicated that the overall repair process could take only six to eight days, cable officials said. SEACOM services between Mumbai and Mombasa went down on July 5. “SEACOM has continued to work closely with its partners to deploy the best plan possible for the repair operations,” an update on the problem posted on the company Web site reads in part.

“As communicated earlier, the exogenous factors such as location, water depth, weather and spare parts needed make this cable outage very difficult to repair … based on this, the current timeline indicates that the repairs may now only be finalized by 22 July 2010.” Investigations have indicated that a repeater on segment 9 of the cable, which is located offshore to the north of Mombasa, Kenya, had failed.

The company said the unexpected failure affects traffic to India and Europe, with traffic within Africa remaining unaffected. However, users in Uganda whose Internet service providers are supplied by SEACOM have complained of service interruptions. The interruptions were widespread toward the end of last week, especially for ISPs that had switched off satellite connectivity.

An official with Uganda Telecom, which is the country’s market leader in data services, said it was able to switch clients from the cable service to satellite when the interruptions happened. “We did not switch off completely of satellite, and that is how we managed to switch from cable to satellite when we experienced the interruptions and am sure our customers are back on,” said Emmy Olaki, a communications and marketing officer.

SEACOM said a technical team has identified the exact location of the fault and the repair process has been fully mobilized. “The faulty section of the cable is at one of the deepest points along its route, some 4,700 meters deep,” SEACOM said.

This, SEACOM said, may require that robotics be deployed to locate and retrieve the cable for repairs to be undertaken onboard the specialized repair ship before placing the cable back on the ocean floor.

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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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