With load shedding becoming a norm again in Zimbabwe and its neighbour South Africa, many people are once again scrambling to find alternative sources of energy.
The power cuts not only keep people in the dark but also cause a serious problem for internet (fibre) providers and users.
Additionally, it also has an impact on our cellphone signal. But why is this the case?
When power outages happen, many fibre users lose their network. This is because when the electricity comes back, too many users try to reconnect at the same time.
This causes a significant delay because the systems that control the network become overwhelmed.
It might take two to three hours for everyone to be connected again.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) say load shedding gives them little time to charge the backup batteries at cell towers.
Zimbabweans who rely on the country’s three main MNOs, Econet, NetOne and Telecel as well as major internet providers, ZOL, TelOne and Powertel are in one way or affected by the disruptions caused by power outages.
The problem of load shedding is also affecting South Africa, Africa’s most industrialised economy. MTN’s SA’s executive of corporate affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan, said:
These batteries generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.
The constant outages are starting to have a direct impact on the performance of the batteries.
If outages continue, the battery’s integrity is compromised because of insufficient time to recharge and due to the excessive drain on the battery.
A Vodacom spokesperson explained that once power is fully depleted, the tower stops working entirely.
Depending on the configuration of nearby towers, this may cause customers to experience an intermittent service or an area to black out entirely.
Cell C’s acting chief technical officer, Schalk Visser, said “during extended periods of power failures, backup systems are not sufficient, resulting in a negative impact on customers as well as an impact on revenues.”