Faulty cable disrupts Internet, phone in Middle East and India

The Indian subcontinent and some Middle East countries have experienced a sudden drop in Internet connectivity and disruption to international phone calls as two underwater cables were severed in the Mediterranean sea by a ship's Anchor near the Egyptian City of Alexandria.

The cables account for three quarters of the network capacity between Europe and the Middle East and India, according to Analyst Stephan Beckert (via Infoworld), and is part of the longest submarine cable in the world with its 24500 miles length running from Germany to Australia through Japan.

Bloomberg reports that repairs will start on the 4th of February 2007 and could last for at least two weeks according to Indian website Techtree.

The incident highlights the vulnerability of the internet backbones and fortunately, network capacity was not completely lost : a third cable was left unharmed although it is older and has a much smaller capacity.

India's outsourcing industry which is entirely reliant on stable and resilient Internet connection is scrambling to reroute incoming and outgoing traffic to the rest of the world via satellites and East Asian cables.

"The majority of our IT companies, BPOs and call centers which are using the Atlantic route for dialling to the U.S. East Coast have been badly affected," the president of the Internet Service Provider Association of India, Rajesh Chharia said to Bloomberg.

In December 2006, an earthquake struck Taiwan and caused important disruptions throughout Asia as cables were snapped by the moving ocean floor.