Monday, July 24, 2017

Fibre cuts slow internet speeds

Fibre cuts and disruptions slowed the internet down and caused outages last week in Myanmar.

Internet troubles seem to have started earlier for state-owned Myanma Post and Telecommunications (MPT) and international competitor Telenor Myanmar than for rival operator Ooredoo Myanmar.

MPT ran into technical difficulties on August 13 around Myawaddy, where the firm connects to Thailand.

On the morning of August 14, the COO of the firm’s joint operation, Yoshiaki Benino, said that a fibre cable had been cut somewhere in the jungle and had already been fixed.

Meanwhile, Telenor said on August 14 that it also had fibre-cut issues with two of its independent, international links with Thailand.

That morning, the firm said it was investigating what started the issue, and that both links were gradually being restored. But a Facebook post in the afternoon announced disruptions had arisen on three of its five international fibre links.

“This has resulted in slow internet connections for our customers,” the post said. “At present, two of the five links are back to normal, and we are working on restoring the others soon.”

The firm said on August 16 it would know more about the status of the remaining cable today.

Problems may have continued for the state-owned MPT as well.

Ooredoo announced a service outage on August 14 via Facebook. A cut occurred between Kengtung and Myawaddy on an MPT line that Ooredoo shares with the company, according to Ooredoo social media and communication executive Ko Moe Min Thet. The cut would also affect international calls, he said.

Ooredoo announced later that evening via Facebook that “the technical issue we faced is partly restored”, meaning users could get to the internet and make international calls. However, it warned one link remained down, which could cause slow internet speeds.

Service was restored that same evening, according to a later post. 

Although telecoms have advanced in Myanmar over the past year, stable, continuous access to the internet has remained a pipe dream.

“There are clearly problems with Myanmar’s international internet connections,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at internet performance company Dyn. “Myanmar relies heavily on terrestrial links to Thailand for access to the global internet. If that link is down, then there is reduced capacity to carry internet traffic into and out of Myanmar.”

Mr Madory compares the situation to closing a highway at rush hour.

“This reduced capacity results in congestion and increased latency – the time traffic takes to and from its destination,” Mr Madory continued. “It is possible for congestion to get so bad that web browsing and other online activities don’t work because the latency is just too high and the connections time out.”

Additional reporting by Kayleigh Long