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Phở no! Vietnam's last working submarine cable glitches out

Five from five take a dive, but connections are still alive

Vietnam's connection to the internet has become even more tenuous after a fifth submarine cable's service degraded, meaning all maritime links are now compromised.

As The Register reported on February 21, four of the five cables connecting Vietnam to the world either stopped working or were delivering a degraded service.

Local media now reports that the fifth cable – SMW-3 – has experienced a disruption on its Singapore-Vietnam leg.

Local telco Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group told local media SMW-3 is not used for broadband services, so its operational issues aren't impacting internet services across the nation.

Cables to Vietnam started hitting trouble in November 2022.

As it happens, this hack holidayed in Vietnam over the New Year's period and experienced decent speeds on hotel Wi-Fi and cellular services (albeit with the occasional shocking reversion to 3G) on a trip that didn't take me far off the beaten track.

The quality of service I experienced may have been down to Vietnamese telcos having apparently been able to boost the bandwidth they use on the two cables that still offer some services.

Physical layer interventions are required to restore two of the cables, but it is unclear what kind of work is needed on SMW-3 and the other two cables.

Vietnam's deputy foreign minister recently talked up the nation's digital transformation plan. The government has also set out an agenda to increase and improve digital services for citizens, and to attract investment from tech players.

Such investors are well within their rights – indeed their obligations – to ask the government about the robustness of local internet connectivity. ®

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