Aussie internet users face three-week wait for cable repair

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Aussie internet users face three-week wait for cable repair

[Updated] Four weeks of poor network performance.

Australian internet users will continue to experience inter-Asia latency for at least the next three weeks as the operator of the SEA-ME-WE3 subsea internet cable works to repair a cut.

SEA-ME-WE3, which connects Perth to Singapore, has been down for over two weeks thanks to a cable cut that occurred on December 3.

The cable's operators were able to pinpoint the fault to around 1126km out from the cable's landing station in Singapore, but couldn't provide an estimated time of restoration at the time.

Two weeks later internet service provider Vocus - one of many ISPs that rely on the route for inter-Asia traffic - has now advised that a cable ship has been assigned for the repair operation.

The work is "tentatively" scheduled to be complete by January 9 next year.

"Customers can expect to see increased latency to Asian destinations until this link is restored," Vocus' advisory stated.

"Further updates will be provided as they are received."

The fault has led to increased latency and intermittent time-outs for users attempting to connect to Asian networks.

There is no redundancy on the Perth-Singapore subsea route at the moment; telcos have historically needed to reroute traffic to and from Asia via the United States in such times of service interruption.

The latest cut to SEA-ME-WE3 occurred just six weeks after a separate fault, which took the cable offline for 50 days, was repaired.

SEA-ME-WE3 has proven to be susceptible to regular breakages as a result of storms and ship traffic; it suffered similar issues in 2013 and 2015. It is also at full capacity.

However, from next year redundancy will be available on the Perth-Singapore subsea route as a result of two new cable systems currently being built.

The Vocus-owned Australia-Singapore Cable is due to be operational in mid-2018. A further rival, the Indigo cable backed by AARNet, Google, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel, and SubPartners, is also currently under construction.

Vocus has taken the "unusual decision" to bury the ASC "up to 4m" below the seabed to avoid the type of issues that have plagued SEA-ME-WE3.

"While it is unusual to bury a submarine cable, it’s necessary in this instance because the ASC travels through the Java Sea which is shallow and highly trafficked," Vocus said.

It will lay the cable on the seabed for the section of the cable between Christmas Island and Perth because it passes through deep ocean.

Update 16/1/18: The SMW3 repair work has been completed with the link restored and back in prodution one week ahead of schedule, Vocus advised on Monday.

"All Ethernet and transit traffic, in and out of Singapore, has now been restored on to the direct path," it said.

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