All You Need To Know About Yesterday’s Continental Downtime

All You Need To Know About Yesterday's Continental Downtime

Did you try to use your banking app yesterday and encountered nothing but frustration? Well, you weren’t alone. Banks across Africa were offline and experienced a major downtime, due to a major “fiber cut.” Let’s break down what that means and how it impacted you.

Imagine the internet as a highway and information travels along cables, like cars on roads. These cables can be buried underground or laid underwater, and they’re called fiber optic cables because they use light to transmit data.

Yesterday, some of these underwater cables, vital for internet traffic in Nigeria and South Africa, got damaged. The impact was felt across 8 West African nations, with Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Benin bearing the brunt of the disruption. Think of it like a major road closure (sound familiar?). Suddenly, the usual flow of information was disrupted. Since banks rely heavily on the internet to operate online services, this fiber cut meant their systems couldn’t communicate properly. The result? Downtime for online banking apps, internet banking, and possibly even accessing ATMs that rely on online verification.

What did this continental downtime entail for you?

You might not have been able to:

  1. Check your account balance
  2. Transfer money
  3. Pay bills online
  4. Use your bank’s mobile app

The good news is that these fiber cuts are usually repaired relatively quickly. By now, your bank’s services should be back up and running smoothly. Thankfully, this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often.

What caused the Continental downtime?

On Thursday, a network breakdown rippled across the sub-continent of West Africa. This was the result of damages to the MainOne and ACE sea cable – arteries for telecommunications data. The damages caused connectivity issues for mobile carriers and internet service providers in the region.

What causes these fiber cuts?

The culprits can be varied:

  • Accidental Damage: Construction work or even an errant ship’s anchor can snag and sever a cable. This is why clear communication and marking underground and underwater cables are crucial. In this case, a submarine cable cut.
  • Animal Activity: Believe it or not, some furry (or feathery) friends find fiber optic cables strangely chew-worthy. Rodents and even birds can cause damage.
  • Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, storms, and other extreme weather events can also damage underwater or underground cables.

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While not every fiber cut is preventable, there are steps to make them less likely. Some professions play a key role in this:

  • Telecom Engineers: These engineers design, install, and maintain communication networks, including fiber optic cables. They plan routes carefully to minimize accidental damage and ensure proper protection.
  • Underwater Cable Laying Specialists: Highly skilled teams lay these delicate cables across the ocean floor, considering factors like water depth and potential hazards.
  • Damage Prevention Specialists: These professionals work with construction companies and utility providers to identify and mark underground cables to avoid accidental cuts.

Here’s what you can do next time there is a fiber cut:

Stay Calm: These outages are usually temporary. There’s no need to panic about your money.
Check Bank Updates: Many banks will post information about outages on their social media pages or websites.
Alternative Channels: If you urgently need to access your money, try calling your bank’s customer service line or visiting a physical branch (if they’re operational).

In Conclusion

While these outages can be inconvenient, they’re a reminder of how much we rely on the internet for everyday tasks. By understanding these tech glitches, we can stay informed and avoid unnecessary stress. Remember, even the digital world has occasional bumps in the road, but things usually get back on track quickly!

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