AAG Cable Cuts Incur Blames on its Poor Design in Vietnam

AAG cable cut occurred somewhere near the Vung Tau coast at 11:41 pm on September 15, which slowed down Internet services offered by Viettel and VNPT, FPT and STP. This is the third cut on AAG cable system near the coast of Vietnam within the last one year. The frequent AAG cable cuts incur blames on its below-standard technical design.

According to local news in Vietnam, Nguyen Van Khoa, general director of FPT Telecom, blamed that the AAG cable system had been built to a below-standard technical design, which is the major reason behind its frequent fractures.

“Two years ago, part of the AAG that connects bordering areas between Malaysia and Singapore repeatedly broke, since it goes through overlapping maritime areas between the two countries,” Khoa said.

“A number of boats stop in the said overlapping areas, so their anchors may have become stuck in the cable as sailors raised them and set sail, causing it to break,” he explained.

While explaining why the recent cable cut has so greatly affected Internet traffic in Vietnam, Khoa said that the country has only four submarine Internet cables, and the AAG has the most capacity.

Khoa elaborated that technologically advanced places like Hong Kong and Japan have many times more Internet cables than Vietnam.

“It is very costly and complicated to invest in undersea Internet cables. Every cable is the result of an alliance between many countries,” Khoa noted.

AAG is a 20,000-kilometer-long submarine communications cable system, connecting Southeast Asia with the U.S. mainland across the Pacific Ocean via Guam and Hawaii.

The development of the AAG cable system was funded at an estimated cost of US$560 million by 19 partners, including Vietnam’s Viettel, VNPT, FPT, and STP. Of the Vietnamese partners, FPT contributed the largest amount of capital, with $40 million.

The AAG cable has suffered frequent breaks and outages since it was completed in November 2009. And there are three cuts near the coast of Vietnam within the last one year. The AAG cable cut slowed the internet in Vietnam quite a lot every time. 

On December 20, 2013, the AAG broke about 278km away from Vung Tau. It was repaired on January 4, 2014.

On July 15, 2014, the cable broke 18km off of Vung Tau, and was repaired on July 27.

Most recently, a break in the system occurred somewhere near the Vung Tau coast at 11:41 pm on September 15. This has slowed down Internet services offered by Viettel and VNPT, FPT and STP.

AAG Cable Map

Customers of these telecom firms sometimes experience slow or overloaded connections when browsing websites hosted outside of Vietnam, or while sending emails or making phone and video calls to people in other countries. All domestic services, however, remain normal.

FPT Telecom said it is using ground-based cable systems to make up for Internet traffic lost due to the latest submarine cable cut.

The firm added that repairs to the cut will finish on October 6.

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