Vietnam's Internet Again in Trouble as Three of Five Submarine Cables Go Down

Three of Vietnam's five submarine cables failed, severely impacting internet connectivity and access to offshore websites.By Matthew Connatser, The Register
June 18, 2024

Outages came a day after nation launched giveaway of .VN domains in pursuit of improved digital sovereignty

Internet connectivity between Vietnam and the rest of the globe has degraded yet again after three of the five submarine internet cables failed around June 15 and remain down.

This outage has “significantly affected Vietnam's internet connection with the world” and made some offshore websites hard to access, state media organ VNA reported. The three impacted cables are the Intra Asia (IA) connection to Singapore, the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) link, and the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) pipeline.

The Register understands the cables' operators have not advised when service will be restored – a not unusual circumstance as cable repair ships are in short supply, identifying the site of cable damage can take time, and ships can take days or weeks to steam to the location where fixes are needed.

The exact cause or causes of the outages are not known, but previous failures have apparently been due to simple degradation or ships damaging cables. Deliberate sabotage – which has allegedly happened in the North Sea and the Red Sea – seems less likely in this case.

Vietnam experienced similar issues in early 2023 when all five of the submarine cables connecting the nation went down. The country still had internet access thanks to land connections.

Vietnam is trying to improve the state of its maritime internet connections with a plan that would add 60Tbit/sec of extra bandwidth through two to four more undersea cables, according to Developing Telecoms. Assuming all five of Vietnam's existing cables are operational by the plan's 2025 deadline, they will almost double the country's undersea bandwidth to 122Tbit/sec.

The outages hit just after Vietnam announced a plan to advance its digital economy by promoting its .VN country code top level domain (CCTLD).

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