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Summary:

It looks like Wednesday’s internet slowdown in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia may have been the result of sabotage, rather than the sort of accident that usually knocks out submarine cables.

underseacable

Most times a submarine internet cable gets cut, it’s because someone dropped anchor in the wrong place. In the case of the cut off the Egyptian coast, which my colleague Om Malik reported on yesterday, it seems that more deliberate action may have been involved.

According to the Associated Press, on Wednesday the Egyptian Navy detained three scuba divers in a dinghy near Alexandria, who were “cutting the undersea cable” of local telco Telecom Egypt. This was confirmed on the Navy’s Facebook page. Egyptian news agency MENA identified the affected cable as SMW4: the same one whose cutting caused an internet slowdown in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

MENA quoted officials saying services would be “back 100 percent on Thursday morning” via the use of “alternative feeds”. Telecom Egypt will apparently bear the cost of the repairs, both of this disruption and a separate cable cut last Friday.

Incidentally, the SMW4 cable (more properly known as South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 4 or SEA-ME-WE 4) was also involved in a very serious outage five years ago, which cut the capacity of the main Europe-Middle East connection by 75 percent. This one appears to have been less drastic.

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  1. No report on their identities or country(-ies) of origin?

    OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

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