Third Undersea Cable Damaged in Mideast

Posted on February 1, 2008

The Middle East has been suffering from Internet and phone outages ever since two cables were cut offshore from Egypt. Now there are reports that a third cable is cut.

Ships have been dispatched to repair two undersea cables damaged on Wednesday off Egypt.

FLAG Telecom, which owns one of the cables, said repairs were expected to be completed by February 12. France Telecom, part owner of the other cable, said it was uncertain when repairs on it would be repaired.

Stephan Beckert, an analyst with TeleGeography, a research company that consults on global Internet issues, said the cables off Egypt were likely damaged by ships' anchors.

The loss of the two Mediterranean cables -- FLAG Telecom's FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies -- has snarled Internet and phone traffic from Egypt to India.

There were widespread Internet access problems in India, Dubai and Egypt. Some of the Internet traffic may improve by rerouting traffic but these two cables carry a lot of the bandwidth between Europe and the Middle East. News of a third cut line (near Dubai) is going to raise concerns that intermittent web access may plague the MidEast for weeks or months.

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