Vietnam Internet restored to normal after the AAG cable repaired on January 6. The latest AAG cable outage occurred off Vietnam coast near the Vung Tau Cable Landing Station on Dec 20, 2013 and some 60 percent of the Vietnam Internet traffic, according to FPT Telecom. There was moderate saying that the AAG cable outage affected only about 40 percent of Vietnam's international Internet traffic. Anyway, Vietnam Internet was disrupted by the AAG cable outage.


According to VNNIC, as of March 2013, there were 31,304,211 internet users, with a population penetration of 35.58%, and Vietnam's international internet bandwidth has reached 391 Gbps. Vietnam Internet has been developed fast in the past years, and its international connection bandwidth was at least tripled in 2012-2013.

Total International Internet Bandwidth of Vietnam

Source of figure: UNESCAP

Vietnam's international internet connection relies too much on AAG, no matter 40% or 60%, AAG carriers approximately half of Vietnam's internet traffic. Since its ready for service in late 2009, AAG cable is quite unstable, at least 5 outages has been occurred in Vietnam coast. With such frequent outages and repairs, AAG cable becomes even more fragile in Vung Tau branch.

So, it is obviously challenging for Vietnam internet to avoid disruption by the next AAG cable outage. By then, there will be more than 200G of Vietnam international internet bandwidth running over AAG cable.

With my experience, there are some possible solutions for Vietnam internet to avoid disruption.

First, based on the frequent outages of AAG cable in its Asian segments, especially the Vung Tau branch, we can conclude that the cable route of AAG is not optimized. A rerouting or deep bury of cable may be a possible solution. The TPE cable had similar problem offshore Qingdao right after its ready for service, a deep bury has improved its stability quite much.

Second, there was no serious nature disaster reported when there was AAG cable outage. We can conclude in turn that most of the AAG cable outages were results of man-made marine activities, such as ship anchoring, fishery. So, it may helpful to have a radar system scanning the cable route and ships patrolling along the cable route. When the radar catches ship approaching the cable route, send out alerting messages, and the patrolling ships can alert the approaching ship or the fishing boats.

Third, Vietnamese ISPs need to diversify their internet traffic, even if the AAG cable route is good enough. Diversification should be always an important rule for any strategic network planner. Besides AAG, TGN-IA and C2C are now possible alternative routes for Vietnam internet, but both with limited capacity. On the other hand, there are now various terrestrial cables connecting Vietnam and China and onward to Hong Kong, Japan and the USA. The Vietnam-China terrestrial cables can be stable routes for Vietnam internet, some ISP like Viettel has activated multiple 10G in this way to achieve better performance.

Vietnam's international internet connection should be more than 500 Gbps in 2014. The fragile AAG seems the Sword of Damocles over Vietnam internet. Vietnam ISPs need to take effective measures to secure their international internet connections.