Internet crawls as four undersea cables need repairs

By Luu Quy   January 30, 2023 | 08:16 am PT
Internet crawls as four undersea cables need repairs
A person measures Internet speeds on a PC and a mobile phone in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy
Four out of five undersea cables connecting Vietnam to the world are broken in one way or another, causing internet speeds across the country to slow to a snail’s pace.

A local internet service provider reported Monday that the Intra Asia (IA) cable has been encountering problems since last Saturday. There was a breakage at a cable section located about 130 km from a shoreline station in Singapore, causing a total loss of international data from Vietnam to Singapore through the IA cable.

The latest breakage means that only one undersea cable connecting Vietnam globally, the SMW3, remains fully functional.

Vietnam is currently connected with seven undersea cables: SMW3, AAG, IA, APG, AAE-1, SJC2 and ADC. Besides the recent breakage of the IA, problems with the AAE, AAG and APG cables that have been present since 2022 and early 2023 have yet to be fully resolved.

The SJC2 and the ADC are yet to be officially operational, while the SMW3 cable is outdated and about to be decommissioned.

The fact that Vietnam currently only has one fully functional undersea cable has caused internet speeds between Vietnam and the rest of the world to slow to a crawl.

Phuong Thanh, from Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, said her internet connection became fickle on Sunday. She noticed because her video streaming service quality dropped to the lowest resolution.

"I was planning to watch the rest of a film to end my Tet holiday, but the images were blurry," she said. "It’s really a pain."

Thanh Trung, an online business vendor in Ho Chi Minh City, said he also encountered issues with his internet connection when he opened up shop Monday morning.

"I was planning to kick-start the new year with dozens of orders waiting to be processed, but an hour passed and I still couldn’t access the management page. It means orders were delayed and my customers are still waiting," he said, adding that his internet speed on his PC had never been so slow.

Trung said that when he switched to a mobile internet connection the situation improved somewhat, although the speed was still considerably slower than before.

A representative of VNPT said the fact that four cables were simultaneously encountering issues would mean that international internet connections across Vietnam would be "more or less" affected, especially during rush hours, and for those whose online activities require high internet bandwidths (online gaming, video streaming, etc.).

"This is an unavoidable situation and affects all internet service providers in Vietnam," VNPT reported Monday.

Service providers said they were working with units managing the undersea cables to resolve the issues, as well as deploying other measures to optimize data transference.

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