Undersea Cables Cut: Loss of Internet

Tim Konrad
Total Views: 1
December 20, 2008

An undersea cable has been cut leaving 14 Countries without high speed internet access. wired.com brings us more on this developing story.

Reports from the Mediterranean indicate that two of the undersea cables severed and repaired earlier this year have been cut again, disrupting internet access and phone service between the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia. An additional third cable is down in the same region.

The cuts are causing traffic to be re-routed through the United States and elsewhere.

Egypt’s communications ministry tells the Associated Press that the outage has almost completely killed internet services throughout Egypt.

A second report indicates that the three cables that are out include the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable (also known as SMW4), which went out at 7:28 a.m. local time Friday morning; SEA-ME-WE 3, which went down at 7:33 a.m.; and the FLAG EA cable, which went out at 8:06 a.m. The cables were cut in the region where they run under the sea between Egypt and Italy. They carry an estimated 90 percent of all data traffic between Europe and the Middle East. SMW 3 and SMW 4 are owned by groups of phone companies; FLAG is owned by Reliance Globalcom.

The SMW 4 and FLAG cables were among five undersea cables damaged earlier this year in January and February in the Mediterranean, launching a flurry of conspiracy theories before investigations revealed that at least one of the cuts was caused by a ship’s anchor. When those cables went down, SMW 3 was used to re-route traffic. But this time, SMW 3 is reportedly involved in the outage as well.

A France Telecom report listed 14 countries affected by the current problem. The Maldives are 100 percent down, followed by India, which has 82 percent disruption. Qatar, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates were the next most widely affected areas with about 70 percent service interrupted. Disruptions for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan range from 51 percent to 55 percent.

UPDATE: As reader Julian Borg Barthet notes in the comments section, a fourth undersea cable went out Thursday evening in the same region. The cable, the Seabone, is operated by GO and runs between Malta and Sicily. According to the Times of Malta, GO transferred traffic to a second cable operated by Vodafone. It was the second time in four months that the Seabone cable had failed. blog.wired.com

We have posted a number of stories on Undersea Cables that can be accessed HERE


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