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Damage to sea cables disrupts internet

31 января 2008

Repair ships were on Wednesday night rushing to the Egyptian coast after damage to two undersea cables disrupted internet traffic across large parts of the Middle East and south Asia.

Damage to sea cables disrupts internetAt least one of the cables had been severed, possibly by a ship’s anchor, authorities said. Internet services in Egypt were cut off and web traffic in India disrupted.

There was speculation on Wednesday that bad weather had caused ships to drop anchor near the Egyptian coast.

However, Verizon, the second-biggest US telecommunications group, which is part of a consortium that owns the cables, said it had not yet determined the reason for the damage.

“We have seen some ships going through an area ­dragging their anchors,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the cables were situated close to each other near the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

Egypt’s telecommunications ministry said that the damage had disrupted 70 per cent of the country’s internet network, leaving Cairo without internet access all day.

Tarek Amer, Egypt’s ­deputy central bank governor, when asked about the impact of the disruption on the banking system, said: “We are disappointed [with] the service and will consider alternatives for the banking system if this happens again.”

India also reported serious disruption to its services. “There has been a 50-60 per cent cut in bandwidth,” said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of India.

He told the Headlines Today news channel that a “degraded” service would be up and running by Wednesday night, but full restoration would take 10-15 days.

“The big operators have transferred their small broadband connectivity through the Pacific route, and that’s the reason there’s no hue and cry in the country.”

Residents of Gulf Arab states also reported a slowdown in internet connection. The Bahrain Telecommunications Company said its services were affected.

Verizon warned that “other countries may be affected” by the damage. The cables are two of several hundred underwater conduits that direct internet traffic across the globe.

Verizon said it could take several days to fix the cables, which must be raised from the ocean floor before repairs could begin. It said there were no indications that the damage to the cables was the result of ­sabotage.

“It can take a couple of days to deploy ships, find the cable, and bring the cable on to the ships to inspect,” the company said.

Until the cables are repaired service providers will be forced to find alternative routes to affected areas.

Wednesday’s incident echoed the situation in 2006, when an earthquake centred near Taiwan severed several undersea cables leading to the disruption of internet services across a wide swath of Asia.

Источник: Financial Times

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