Telcos struggle to restore mobile coverage two months after Internet blackout in Sudan

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April 11, 2024
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2 min read

The news: 

  • Reports have emerged indicating that the services of some mobile network operators (MNOs) are gradually making a come-back, following over 2 months of Internet shutdown in war-torn Sudan.
  • Operators with a local presence, like Sudani, the state's second-largest carrier, and Zain, are said to be operational, but only to an extent, as they have yet to regain full coverage. 
  • However, Sudatel, the state-owned telecom and Internet service provider that handles installation, maintenance, and operation of telecommunication services, is proving to be an exception. 

According to reports, Sudatel is fully operational, with its headquarters in Port Sudan, a city on the Red Sea to the east of the East African nation, from which it provides optical-fibre data connectivity.

Currently, MTN is said to still be totally out across the country. The biggest telco in the country hasn’t stated how it intends to resolve its connectivity issues. 

MNOs' attempts to resume their services come amid a crisis that has plagued the country for nearly a year. Following the conflicts between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), individuals and businesses in the country have been cut off from one another and the rest of the world. 

Sudan's telecom disruption is the direct result of damage to the country's communications infrastructure. 

The battle between the country’s military and paramilitary forces severely compromised cell towers and the electricity grid, leaving 49 million Sudanese in a humanitarian crisis.

Telecom providers are struggling to regain full control of their services due to the scale of the disruption, which has severely compromised their systems, resulting in erratic and intermittent connectivity for voice and data services. 

Despite not having a licence in the nation, Starlink has become essential for many Sudanese, including the RSF, to stay connected during the internet blackout. 

In another development, the Sudanese government recently approved a request by humanitarian responders to import telecommunications equipment into the country. 

The nation's Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), launched in May 2023 to aid the rally humanitarian response in Sudan, welcomed the initiative.

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