Mauritius is at present connected directly to two submarine cables, the SAFE cable with landing points at Melkbosstrand, Mtunzini (South Africa) and LION cable with landing point at Nyali (Kenya). From these cables, data then go through other cables such as WACS, SAT3, ACE for South Africa and DARE, EASSY, Seacom and TEAMS for Kenya.
On the 12th of July, just after Melkbosstrand, an incident occurred on the SAT3 cable which severely disrupted international connectivity while simultaneously a cable break occurred on the EASSY cable near Mogadishu.
However, Mauritius Telecom having invested heavily in most of the submarine cables on both east and west coast of Africa re-routed their impacted links to other cables with a slight increased in latency while bandwidth remained unaffected. On the other hand, Emtel reported a loss of about 50% of their total international capacity. With that said, redundancy is almost non existent at Emtel. A similar incident occurred last year on the EIG cable near Monaco which severely impacted Emtel with similar outcome, ie, loss of about 50% of total international capacity. One year later, Emtel haven’t learned from their past mistakes.
Emtel, with two upstream providers, Telia and Belgacom, delivered at London and Marseilles respectively should share their routes from these cities to Mauritius on different cables, just like Mauritius Telecom. Nearer upstream providers should be found such as Hurricane Electric in Kenya, Djibouti Telecom at Djibouti, Etisalat at UAE. Relying on single single routing is unacceptable, diversify routing for redundancy to retain your customers.
In addition, many have brought forward that deployment of the two recently announced cables, METISS and IOX cable need to be accelerated. We beg to differ. Since these two cables end at South Africa, the impact of these cable breaks would not be minimised. Investments in cable on east and west Africa to Europe is key to redundancy.
Therefore, it is undeniable that such incidents with major impacts on Emtel network are unacceptable in 2017.
While a cable break on SAFE or LION just after Mauritius resulting in loss in 50% international connectivity would be acceptable, but a cable break after SAFE and LION cable resulting in major impact on internet is completely unacceptable. Stop playing “wait for cable repair” game, diversify NOW.
With fierce competition between 3 mobile operators for a population of only 1.3 million people, Emtel has started its diversification with the launch of Airbox in 2015. With ChiLi being super aggressive, new sources of revenues are needed. OTT services are aggressively replacing traditional SMS and calls and revenues from these are falling. It’s high time to learn where to throw money.
With the fixed internet market mostly dominated by Mauritius Telecom, Airbox by Emtel was supposed to stop this reign. However, investment in underdeveloped technology called FTTA by Globtel was a big mistake. Money needs to be invested in mature technology backed by billions of dollar in R&D by Nokia(Alcatel Lucent), Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE such as 4G (LTE and LTE-A).
Competing with FTTH is possible. It is high time for Emtel to acquire LTE licence in the 2600 MHz spectrum and launch Fixed Wireless Broadband on TDD-LTE with Huawei B2338 outdoor modem. The only proven solution which can dominate FTTH as of now. THE ONLY SOLUTION…TO COMPETE WITH FTTH.