Tuesday, 06 October 2015 00:50

SEA-ME-WE cable outage means Telstra Apple speed outrage

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Over the past week, connectivity to Apple’s services via Telstra’s networks has been slow, with a full repair not due until 15 October at the earliest.

Anyone trying to update their iDevices to iOS 9.x on the Telstra network over the past few days, or download Mac OS X El Capital 10.11, or download apps, or stream Apple Music has been experiencing some issues.

Indeed, from personal experience, it hasn’t just been over the Telstra network, but others, too, such as the TPG ADSL network I’m connected to at home, which has also featured jittery Apple Music playback and very slow app store downloads. 

As you’d expect, Whirlpool members were quick to set up a forum topic entitled ’Ridiculously slow Apple downloads on Telstra only’, with people still reporting issues up to late yesterday night.

This is despite Telstra issuing Fairfax Media a statement three days ago noting that: “Arrangements have been made to re-route traffic away from the affected subsea cable and as a result the immediate issues impacting customers have been addressed. We will continue to work to ensure the impact does not return. We thank our customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Given the fact people have still been complaining of issues, it seems clear that re-routing traffic away from a cut cable still means you miss out on all the bandwidth a fully working submarine cable would deliver, putting stress on other parts of the network and ensuring people still feel the effects of less bandwidth in total.

iiNet has posted a fault notice, which was most recently updated at 10.31am on 5 October 2015, which says that ‘due to a submarine cable fault in our international link partners network’, ‘customer (sic) will experience slow (sic) that normal speeds when browsing international content.’

Although a Vocus executive stated in a tweet that work to repair the cable was expected to be complete by 15 October, pending weather and approval by Indonesia to conduct the repair work, iiNet’s fault notice notes ‘there is no ETR and further updates will be provided when available).

ETR means ‘estimated time of repair’ or 'resolution.'

Despite the notice that there is no ‘ETR’, iiNet’s fault notice also states “A cable ship has been mobilized for repair work. The work is expected to be performed in Mid October however there may be delays due to this being a sub-marine cable fault. Updates will be provided as progress occurs.”

It’s not the first or even the second time the SEA-ME-WE cable has been cut, iTWire reported on the cable being cut last December

There is no public detail on the outage at the SEA-ME-WE site

So, connectivity issues on various ISPs if not mainly Telstra are likely to continue no matter the re-routing undertaked until the cable is fully restored, which is just under two weeks away if all goes well, and if not, longer.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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