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TNM restores Internet disrupted by sea cable cuts

TNM Chief Executive Officer Michel Hebert flanked by his new Marketing Director Sobhuza Ngwenya

Malawian mobile network operator TNM Plc has said its engineers beat the deadline to restore internet services disrupted by cuts to under-sea fibre cables.

The submarine cables in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean have since February been subjected to cuts due in part to warfare in the Middle East. The latest cut on May 12 affected over 80 million customers in East Africa, and the impact escalated to Malawi and Mozambique.

But in a swift emergency response, TNM Chief Executive Officer Michel Hebert has told the press in Blantyre that the telco’s engineers fixed the problem, which would have ordinarily taken weeks, in a record three days.

TNM mobile internet is now back.

“Such cable cuts are extremely rare but when they happen, they take weeks to repair. Like most mobile network service providers, TNM Plc was affected by these cuts as we depend on the upstream bulk sea cable carriers to connect and host Internet subscribers on our network platform,” he said.

Hebert, flanked by Chief Technical Officer Lloyd Gowera and Marketing Director Sobhuza Ngwenya said TNM Plc, listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange has invested about K4 billion to buy additional fibre cable routes.

He said the additional three routes acquired are designed to provide resilience to the TNM internet in the event of similar incidences in the future.

“Following the recent cable cuts, only one access point, the Mchinji/Chipata link via Zambia was available to TNM. This was not adequate to handle all the demand from customers, resulting in congestion leading to the slow and intermittent experience, ” he explained.

CTO Gowera said the recent frequent undersea-cable cuts are beyond TNM’s control. However the company has taken appropriate swift remedies to protect Internet services for customers in the long term.

“TNM has assumed the responsibility and rushed to invest in new capacity. The additional links have been acquired through our cooperation with partners like Telecom Namibia through Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) via Mchinji/Chipata border, TMCel Mozambique through Muloza/Milanje border, and MTN Zambia connecting into Malawi through Mchinji/Chipata border,” he said.

Gowera said TNM acquired the new routes from MTN Zambia, ZESCO, MCel Mozambique, and Telecom Namibia.

He thanked the telco’s engineers and other operations teams for rising. to the occasion in responding to the crisis.

“We would like to thank our technical team in responding to the Internet outage emergency in a record time, and working in rough and challenging conditions. Similar brevity was experienced during the Cyclone Freddy disaster in March 2023 when our engineers risked their lives to keep the TNM network running, ” he said.

For his part, new Marketing Director Sobhuza Ngwenya said TNM has extended the validity period for internet data bundles bought during the period of intermittent service.

In addition TNM will dish out dree data services to customers based on their usage, he said.

“TNM assures its customers that out of an emergency, we have built a more resilient and less-latent Internet network that will guarantee the best internet service experience and value for money offer in Malawi, ” he said.

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