Multiple cable outages slow Vietnam's Internet

Vietnam's ISPs scramble as yet more cable failures throttle connectivity.

Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

June 18, 2024

2 Min Read
Subsea cables
(Source: Sybille Reuter/Alamy Stock Photo)

Three of Vietnam's five offshore cables have suffered a full or partial outage, slowing Internet speeds nationwide, state media has reported.

Two of the affected cables are intercontinental systems, the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) and the Asia Africa Europe 1(AAE-1).

The third, the Tata TGN Intra Asia cable, which runs from Singapore to Japan, experienced an “incident” on its Singapore link, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported earlier this week without elaborating.

It did not explain the nature or extent of the cable faults or how long before they would be repaired.

The most likely reason for the loss of service is cable breaks caused by a fishing boat or anchor. This is the single biggest cause of cable failure, and the shallow South China Sea waters are the most heavily trafficked in the world.

However, disruption on Vietnam's five international cable connections – which also include Asia Africa Europe 1 and the SeaMeWe 3 – is a regular occurrence. In February 2023, all five systems experienced some kind of fault.

According to VNA, domestic ISPs have responded by sharing bandwidth and moving as much as they can to terrestrial links.

New capacity yet to arrive

The two biggest Vietnam telco groups – military-backed Viettel and state-owned Vietnam Post and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), which owns mobile operator Vinaphone – are investors in both the AAE-1 and the APG.

Both are club cables that started service in 2016. The 25,000 km AAE-1, whose backers also include Ooredoo, Reliance Jio and PCCW, has design capacity of 40 Tbit/s. APG, which runs from Singapore to Japan, is backed by three Chinese operators and Meta, with initial design capacity of 55 Tbit/s. 

No surprise that Vietnam's operators are investing in new capacity, aimed at not just providing more stable connectivity but also to support the government's goal of becoming a major data center hub. The new connections have not yet arrived, however. 

The Viettel-invested $290 million Asia Direct Cable (ADC), which links Japan, southern China and southeast Asia, was originally due to commence in late 2022 but is now scheduled for Q4 this year.

VNPT is a member of a consortium building the 144Tbit/s Southeast Japan Cable 2 (SJC2), which is expected to go live in Q1 2025.
Viettel has also just signed an MoU with Singtel to build an eight fiber-pair link between the two countries, due to go into service in 2027.

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Asia

About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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