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Cable damage hits 1.7m Internet users in UAE

By Asma Ali Zain (Our staff reporter) / 5 February 2008

DUBAI — An estimated 1.7 million Internet users in the UAE have been affected by the recent undersea cable damage, an expert said yesterday, quoting recent figures published by TeleGeography, an international research Web site.

Internet data was majorly affected as it is the biggest capacity carried by the undersea cables.

However, all voice calls, corporate data and video traffic were also affected.

Two du experts yesterday briefed the media on the current methods being undertaken by the telecom provider to re-route the Internet traffic to provide normalcy to the users.

Quoting TeleGeography and describing the effect the cuts had on the Internet world, Mahesh Jaishanker, executive director, Business Development and Marketing, du, said, “The submarine cable cuts in FLAG Europe-Asia cable 8.3km away from Alexandria, Egypt and SeaMeWe-4 affected at least 60 million users in India, 12 million in Pakistan, six million in Egypt and 4.7 million in Saudi Arabia.”

A total of five cables being operated by two submarine cable operators have been damaged with a fault in each.

These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia, the FLAG Europe-Asia near Alexandria, FLAG near the Dubai coast, FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran and SeaMeWe-4, also near Alexandria.

The first cut in the undersea Internet cable occurred on January 23, in the Flag Telcoms FALCON submarine cable which was not reported. This has not been repaired yet and the cause remains unknown, explained Jaishanker.

A major cut affecting the UAE occurred on January 30 in the SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4). “This was followed by another cut on February 1 which was on the same cable (FALCON). This affected the du network majorly as connections from the Gulf were severed while there was limited connectivity within the region,” said Khaled Tabbara, executive director, Carrier Relations, du.

He explained that the network was re-routed through Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia and was near normal now.

Almost 90 per cent of Internet traffic is routed through undersea cables and only 10 per cent is done through the satellite.

The experts also suggested that the cause of damage could have been a ship’s anchor that was dragging due to inclement weather conditions in the region during that particular period. “About 60-80 per cent of damages to undersea cable are due to external factors and only 10 per cent on an average can be classified as component failure,” said Tabbara.

 
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