SEACOM outage spoils the moment for journalists…

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When Guy Berger was telling me about tweetdeck French translation, he probably did not know that it will be hard to even send an email, forget do the blog posts, podcasts and video.

He was right to make suggestions, given that last year, there was a projector showing all the twitter feeds and given the number of journalists that are here with lots of laptops, you can imagine the amount of social media that would have been in use; it would have been “churnalism”.

An hour after Guy gave me the hint and I was busy sharing with the other, the system became slow; I thought it was because of the many internet users and maybe hardware issues.

Then it became bad and all journalists became grumpy because they could not get online; only those with local mobile phones could send tweets, which actually took out the fun.

It was hard to understand how Rhodes University could be down, given its an ISP and is very efficient; by lunch break, we were told that SEACOM was down, which was bad for us.

SEACOM is great, and am sure when the capacity is up, its great but it would have been nice to see who would have been tweeting more; the new media professors or the students or working journalists.

The funniest thing was that the MTN stand just outside was working well and they had public laptops, which as you can guess pulled many people. Love it or hate it, MTN saved the day for some of us.

The SEACOM social media team is very efficient, sent them a tweet asking about the downtimes and they confirmed they had a repeater problem somewhere between Mombasa and Mumbai.

My next question was why the capacity was not being routed through SAT 3 or TEAMS, I thought they had redundancy, given that TATA is all over. They confirmed that they had no redundancy, but why?

Anyway, I am sitting here whining but am lucky to have the modem, can you imagine having 600 journalists and the #ha2010 hashtag on twitter is virtually empty? Hard to imagine.

To answer my questions, today morning I received the following press release from SEACOM and as of lunch time there was no update on this, so take it as the latest.
“SEACOM has experienced a submarine cable failure resulting in service downtime between Mumbai and Mombasa. Current investigations indicate that a repeater has failed on segment 9 of the SEACOM cable, which is offshore to the north of Mombasa. This unexpected failure affects traffic towards both India and Europe. Traffic within Africa is not affected.

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SEACOM has initiated emergency repair procedures to replace the repeater. Once mobilized, the repair ship is deployed to the location of the fault to pick up the cable. The cable is then brought on board to undergo the repair – the faulty element is replaced with a new repeater – before being put back in the water.

Whilst the repair process itself will only take a few hours, the overall process may last a minimum of 6-8 days. The actual duration is unpredictable due to external factors such as transit time of the ship, weather conditions and time to locate the cable. For these reasons, the estimated duration of this repair remains uncertain.

SEACOM in co-operation with its clients, is actively seeking alternatives to restore service whilst the repairs are undertaken. “