labels: Telecom
A third undersea cable cut in Middle East, says FLAG news
02 February 2008

Mumbai: Two days after two breaks near Egypt disrupted internet services in parts of the Middle East and Asia, a third undersea cable was cut on Friday, cable network operator FLAG Telecom has said.

FLAG, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Communications, said on its website that its FALCON cable had been reported cut at 0559 GMT, 56 km from Dubai, between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

"The repair ship has been notified and expected to arrive at the (Dubai) site in (the) next few days," FLAG added.

The break caused severe phone line disruptions and compounded an already existing internet outage across large parts of the Middle East and Asia, following a cut on FLAG's SEA-ME-WE-4 cable.

A FLAG official said workers were still trying to determine how the Persian Gulf cable was cut. He declined to comment on whether the cut was somehow linked to Wednesday's cut in Egypt, but said he did not believe FLAG's cables were deliberately targeted.

Egyptian telecom authorities said about 55 per cent of the country's internet capacity had been restored by Friday, after rerouting of traffic. Egyptian officials said they would ask FLAG and SEA-ME-WE to compensate internet and call centre companies in the country.

The International Cable Protection Committee, a grouping of 86 submarine cable operators, said it is investigating the causes of the incident.

More than 95 per cent of transoceanic telecom and data traffic are carried by undersea, and the rest by satellite, the association said.

The outsourcing industry in India, however, said the disruption did not affect them so far, saying they had used back-up plans.

Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association, said all of FLAG's traffic had now been shifted to the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable network.

FLAG's rival, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), said the majority of its internet services to the Middle East and North Africa had been restored within 24 hours, as had services to India.(See: VSNL restores internet services within following Egypt submarine cable break)

VSNL said it had used the SEA-ME-WE-3, SEA-WE-ME-4 eastbound and TIC cable to reroute customer traffic. 


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A third undersea cable cut in Middle East, says FLAG