Blog Post

Optical Cable Cuts Disrupt Internet Service in India & the Middle East

Monday Update: Over the weekend repair crews were dispatched for all three cables. Engineers arrived at the SEA-ME-WE3 and SEA-ME-WE4 cables on Sunday. India, Singapore, and about 80 percent of Egypt (according to the Egyptian government) regained internet service. Reliance said it expects the FLAG cable break to be repaired this week. The cause of the cuts remains unclear.

Update: Research firm TeleGeography emailed us that three international submarine cables in the Mediterranean Sea were damaged today, causing disruptions to internet and phone traffic in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India and all of the Gulf states. TeleGeography pinpoints the faults  between Tunisia and Italy, and claims the damaged cables are the FLAG Europe-Asia cable, operated by Reliance Globalcom, and two consortium cables, SeaMeWe-3 and SeaMeWe-4 owned jointly by several telecommunications companies. From the TeleGeography statement:

The current series of faults is reminiscent of the submarine cable faults that occurred in January 2008. Today’s events have the potential to create worse disruptions: while the January 2008 accidents broke two of the three cables connecting Europe with Asia via the Middle East, Friday’s cable failures have caused faults on all three. France Telecom projects that service on all cables will be restored by December 31. Until then, many carriers in the Middle East and South Asia will need to route their European traffic around the globe, through South East Asia and across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

cable_breaks_dec08 It’s unknown if the Malta cable problems are related to these cuts, perhaps from a weather or seismic event. However in the online world the cuts are certainly related in how they will make it that much slower or impossible for users to connect around the world. (Malta cable cut report published earlier follows.)

In a reminder of both the frailty and the flexibility of the web, the Times of Malta is reporting that last night, a submarine cable delivering traffic to subscribers of GO’s broadband service experienced a “fault.” Thousands of Maltese lost their web connections.  Combine Malta’s experience with the earlier epidemic of a few undersea cables getting cut over a period of days, and a fight by Sprint and Cogent in the U.S. over peering agreements that cut off the web for some users, and it becomes clear that we should consider the web not only as physical infrastructure, but also held together by political and economic agreements.

It’s like an information superhighway, but also a like series of treaties that allow trade to various points of the globe. In Malta’s case, an agreement with Vodafone to share its cable kept the physical infrastructure from staying out. But as the Sprint/Cogent peering fight proved, when those agreements fail, the web is vulnerable in a way roads are not.

44 Responses to “Optical Cable Cuts Disrupt Internet Service in India & the Middle East”

  1. The Jonas

    great! just great.
    actually I don’t notice a difference except that the half of the internet which isn’t blocked by Etisalat isn’t working either now (slight exaggeration). No change in speed, connection’s always peak at 2b/s (no seriously, when I get 70kb/sec i’m happy, even though I pay for 4Mb/sec)
    It’s so much fun to monopolize, block the internet and charge people a lot for a phone call, ask 180 AED for a sim card and then 100 AED per year. Block Skype because it’s against the religious beliefs (read wallet, no offense towards the religious beliefs though), and I could go on for hours.
    one question, how the [insert a word that has four letters, starts with an “f” and rhymes with “duck” here] did they manage to cut FOUR cables?!
    lol reminds me of last year, something like 2 cut cables and they want to go out and fix them, lower their anchor and hit another one, lol, talking about… well, n00bs would fit in well here.
    maybe it’s just an act to intercept our uber-secrets…

  2. harmeet singh

    speed of internet is already slow in india but due to this optical fibre cut….the speed has flattened…..and its not gaining in so many days now……..waiting for the speed to get better…………………..

  3. I am facing lot of problem due to this wire breakdown. My entire business is running on internet due to this problem my business start suffering. ISP companies has to think this problem seriously and try to fix it ASAP

  4. Once again, infrastructure is highlighted as the weak link. It’s great to design fault-tolerant systems, but there is no excuse for the low investment in infrastructure. It is a matter of national and economic security. All these countries are armed to the teeth, but a boat anchor can bring them to their collective knees? What fools, what inutterable fools. It’s time to send the warmonger charlatans packing. Don’t you see now, where the real priorities need to be? We can no longer affors to waste scarce resources on weapons when it is so clear that our collective security depends on trade and communication.

  5. It seems that every thing is coming back to normal .But still the connection a bit slow when compare to before . I am using Tata Indicom connection . Any Idea when it will become OK!

  6. Tim of tekSymmetry here.

    We’ve got clients in Saudi and that’s where I am at the moment and what can I say other than it’s HORRIBLE. I already have to deal with the terribly slow NORMAL speed but now it’s utterly shidious. At this rate I may have to just read a book or actually go outside. Tennis anyone? I’ll check with some of our devs in Pakistan and Bangladesh today to see how things are over there. I’m not sure the clients (especially our US ones) will be too happy if I tell them, “NO UPLOADS TODAY”.

  7. i m facing problems while opening some web sites . what has gone wrong with internet, i am not able to know what is going wrong: is this a web site problem or is it linked with the cable connection which broke up………………it’s really making a lot of problems for internet users. IT sector must work on this problem quickly.
    sandeep from india

  8. Here in U.A.E we have problems with voice.We can’t call to india by pc2phone.call is going but no clarity.

    We can able to surf but sometimes net disconnecting.

    Hope will soon be ok.

  9. Husain Al-asfoor

    I am an Omani, and my internet as at the speed of 3 kb/s MAXIMUM.

    Everyone here in the gulf is facing problems. It all started with the egyptian ship that threw there ancourage on the first two cables…
    By the end of December at least half of us internet users here will commit suicide from the F’in slow speed.

    It will at least another 5 – 10 mins to post this comment
    ahhhhhhh im dying here… SOMEONE SAVE US

  10. Yousef Elgadi

    @Tony: Nopes! thats Sicily, Malta is the little island under it the one GO-1 line connects to it,

    damn am fed up with these cable cuts!!! it took abt 3 mins for this page to load!!!! and yesterday we stayed for 11 hours without internet access at all,!!!

    Yousef Elgadi,

    Tripoli, Libya

  11. I am facing the same problem. But the real problem is that my ISP (Airtel India) kept telling lies. First they told that they are upgrading their routers and things will be normal in two hours, then the support guy tried to convince me that there is something wrong with the DNS, when I told him to update is knowledge as I am not even using the ISP DNS services; He told me that the under sea cables have been damaged. I don’t know why they want to hide the truth from their customers or may be the tech support is provided with some canned responses to tell to the customers every time without check the real problem.