Internet crawls in Vietnam as undersea cable disrupted again

By Nguyen Quy   April 3, 2020 | 06:00 am PT
Internet crawls in Vietnam as undersea cable disrupted again
A man uses his smartphone to surf Facebook in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Nga.
Vietnamese Internet users have to suffer sluggish internet connections as the disaster-prone AAG undersea cable suffered a disruption Thursday.

Local internet service providers said the Asia America Gateway (AAG) encountered a technical problem on the S1 branch connecting Vietnam to Hong Kong at 8:34 p.m. Thursday.

This is the first internet disruption incident of this year.

The disruption happens at a time when millions of Vietnamese are studying and working from home with the country in a 15-day nationwide social distancing campaign to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing demand for Internet services.

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.

Many Vietnamese online users have complained about unstable internet connection these days, affecting their work and study.

Hai Yen, a designer in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, is working from home. Initially, she felt secure because she signed up for a high-speed internet package, but after a few days, the network kept flickering. "Previously downloading files of 100 MB took less than a minute, but now it takes more than five minutes, and still doesn’t finish downloading. It even gets interrupted in the middle," Yen said. She called the operator and was advised to "reboot the modem," but the condition did not improve much.

The most recent internet disruption of the cable took place on December 22.

Vietnam currently has six submarine cable systems, as well as a 120 gigabit channel that runs overland through China.

Connected in November 2009, the $560-million AAG handles more than 60 percent of the country’s international internet traffic. The system runs more than 20,000 kilometers (12,420 miles), connecting Southeast Asia and the U.S., passing through Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Since its debut, the cable has experienced frequent ruptures and repairs, affecting all service providers in Vietnam, where more than 64 percent of the population are online.

Vietnam's average broadband speed is 10 times slower than Singapore's 70.86 Mbps, a third of Malaysia's 23.86 Mbps and half that of Thailand's (18.21 Mbps).

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