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Published on December 20th, 2008 | by Arsalan Mir


Three Major Undersea Cables Slashed

Reports have indicated that three major undersea cables, SEA-ME-WE 4 (SMW4), SEA-ME-WE 3 (SMW3) and FLAG EA went out around early morning on Friday. The cables were cut in the Mediterranean between Egypt and Italy. SMW4 and SMW3 are owned by a group of telephone companies from around the world; where as FLAG EA is owned by Reliance Globalcom. These cables carry a high percentage of voice and data traffic between Europe, Middle-East and Asia.

SMW4 and FLAG were also among the five cables that faced a similar damage earlier this year but at that time SMW3 was used to re-route traffic.

France telecom has reported that around 14 countries have been majorly hit by these cable slashes. An estimate shows a following impact on traffic|:

  • Saudi Arabia: 55% out of service
  • Djibouti: 71% out of service
  • Egypt: 52% out of service
  • United Arab Emirates: 68% out of service
  • India: 82% out of service
  • Lebanon: 16% out of service
  • Malaysia: 42% out of service
  • Maldives: 100% out of service
  • Pakistan: 51% out of service
  • Qatar: 73% out of service
  • Syria: 36% out of service
  • Taiwan: 39% out of service
  • Yemen: 38% out of service
  • Zambia: 62% out of service

Following the incidence in Pakistan, internet services and call center operations experienced disruption. The country had four links from different routes, PTCL (country’s only internet backbone service provider) was relying on undersea fiber cable from Singapore and there was no major complaint of service disruption.

“We have the capacity to cater for the overall demand of bandwidth in the country from any link. Secondly, we don’t see the problem staying for long. The situation will become normal within the shortest possible time.”
Sikandar Naqi
Senior Executive Vice President

On the contrary, industrial and cooperate sector relaying heavily on internet services showed a different picture, for them the problem is serious as the required level of bandwidth is not achieved.

Call centers and software houses are facing serious problems; the alternative provided by the PTCL has not met satisfactorily the needs of the corporate users.”

Wahajus Sairaj
ISPs Association of Pakistan (ISPAK)

The relief mission has already begun and priority will be given to the recovery of the Sea- Me-We 4 cable, then on the Sea-Me-We 3.By December 25th, Sea- Me-We 4 could be operating. By December 31st, the situation should be back to normal.

Source: France Telecom and DAWN News.

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About the Author

is a Telecom enthusiast with engineering background based in Lahore. On professional front, he is the Director Operations at the Target Group. He can be reached at arsalan (at) telecompk (dot) net

2 Responses to Three Major Undersea Cables Slashed

  1. Muhammad Haris says:

    Hope for best …its a last gift of 2008 year :|

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