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Multiple Submarine Cable Fault, Telekom Malaysia says Largely Unaffected, Ample Capacity

There are currently multiple submarine cable system fault being reported in the region but Malaysia’s major Internet service provider, Telekom Malaysia (TM) assures that it is largely unaffected.

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A submarine cable carries telecommunication signals (including Internet & telephone) across ocean and sea, connecting countries around the world to the Internet. This cable is laid on the sea bed between land-based stations.

Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) Fault

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Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) submarine cable system

According to Telekom Malaysia (TM), the consortium of operators which maintains the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) has detected some faults in the submarine cables at Segment 3, between Chongming to Lantau connecting Malaysia to Singapore, Hong Kong and San Jose, United States of America (U.S.).

The root cause of the fault is still under investigation by the consortium and it can only be ascertained after cable ship arrives for repair works.

TM said the affected cable provides international connectivity to many internet-based services such as video conferencing, gaming and Virtual Private Network (VPN) hosted in Hong Kong and the U.S. which may cause some degree of service degradation for internet users of these services in Malaysia and in the region. For other TM users and services, the Internet experience is largely unaffected by this cable fault.

“The consortium of telecommunications operators and contractors have begun concerted efforts to rectify the faults detected. In the meantime, mitigation works and traffic rerouting have been done to ensure that impacted applications such as video conferencing, gaming and VPN are as minimal as possible. In addition, we have also taken steps to optimise traffic from our networks to reduce congestion and diverting traffic to alternative routes, thus, minimising the impact to our users,” the ISP said in a statement.

The expected date of full cable restoration has not been determined yet by the consortium however TM said that additional capacity will be ready by 20 April 2020.

Fault at Asia Submarine Cable Express (ASE), South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) & Asia-America Gateway (AAG)

Three other submarine cable system in the region are also facing some disruption, possibly impacting Unifi and Streamyx Internet users of Telekom Malaysia.

The Asia Submarine Cable Express (ASE) system off Singapore is affecting TM’s Cahaya Malaysia submarine cable linking Malaysia to North Asia and the United States. ASE consists of 6 fiber pairs of which TM owns 2 fiber pairs, named as Cahaya Malaysia. TM Internet users (Unifi and Streamyx) may experience some degree of service degradation such as slow browsing and high latency while accessing contents hosted in the United States (US), North Asia and Europe via the affected cables.

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AAG Submarine Cable System

Vietnamese Internet users are currently suffering sluggish internet connections as the Asia America Gateway (AAG) undersea cable suffered a disruption last week. One of the Vietnam Internet Service Provider sent an announcement to customers, saying that the AAG cable system was broken and warning that connections to services provided by Facebook and YouTube would slow down. It said the Asia America Gateway (AAG) encountered a technical problem on the S1 branch connecting Vietnam to Hong Kong. However, the cause of the problem has not been confirmed and Internet service providers have not yet revealed the time when the problem will be fixed. Telekom Malaysia is also connected to the AAG submarine cable system, directly to Hong Kong, but no disruption on this cable system have been reported by TM yet.

The South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4 or SMW4) submarine cable system is also facing disruptions between Europe and Southeast Asia. SEA-ME-WE 4 cable system span across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France. There is no estimated time for a fix.

Telekom Malaysia says it has Sufficient Network Connectivity Worldwide

“TM would like to reiterate that it has a vast and diverse network connectivity worldwide that is sufficient to continuously support any sudden spike in demand for internet bandwidth. This has enabled us to ensure the functioning of our network infrastructure, having it always-on and available to customers to ensure seamless and uninterrupted connectivity.”

As most people are currently confined at home due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) that has been extended to 28 April 2020, TM reported more than 30% increase in Internet usage. Of this, the increase of international link traffic is only 5% and TM claim that its network is still capable to serve popular apps or content with acceptable user experience.

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Telekom Malaysia’s submarine cable system

Telekom Malaysia connects Malaysia to the world via more than 20 direct connectivity of its submarine cables systems – spanning over 190,000 km – to more than 60 countries. These include the following submarine cable systems:

TM’s total design capacity of its international submarine cables was reported to be at 30Tbps (Terabits Per Second) a few years ago.

In a statement, TM said it is committed to ensure its core network and fibre optic infrastructure are capable to support any sudden increase in bandwidth requirement for the industry to ensure that their services to the end users are not interrupted. The ISP has claims that it has ample backhaul capacity that can be upgraded to cater for the spikes in data usage of the industry and mobile users.

Meanwhile a number of TM Internet users are facing slow Internet connection in the past weeks. MalaysianWireless observed multiple complaints on frequent disconnections with Unifi, slow browsing and video buffering on the Unifi Facebook page. Previously, TM has said that it won’t be fixing Internet issues within customer premises/home during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Other Internet Service Providers in Malaysia are not impacted by the service degradation faced by TM and its Internet customers. Celcom Axiata, U Mobile and Digi said all Internet service are operating as normal. Meanwhile TIME dotCom does not connect to AAG, SEA-ME-WE 4, APCN2 or ASE and it has access to four subsea cable systems that cover two thirds of the globe including Unity, Faster, Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) and Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1).

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy
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