Etisalat breaks silence on Internet disruption

DUBAI — Internet services in the UAE will be fully restored only by next week with repair works yet to begin on two severed undersea cables located off the coast of India and Pakistan, Etisalat officials have confirmed.

By Prerna Suri

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Published: Wed 10 Aug 2005, 10:24 AM

Last updated: Tue 14 Nov 2023, 2:21 PM

Internet traffic in the emirates has been affected since last week due to the fault which has also affected several other countries including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Users in the UAE have been affected considerably as a large part of network services were rendered inoperable including peer-to-peer applications and gaming systems. Many companies and businesses have allegedly lost huge amounts in business due to the disruption with many blaming Etisalat for their losses.

eCompany, Etisalat's IT arm, organised a Press conference yesterday to explain the reasons for their silence on the issue of repair work and assured customers that remedial measures were being taken to ensure that critical services are not disrupted.

"The cable links were severed in an accident. What we understand is that two ships sunk around these areas in heavy monsoon rains and in the process, the links were severed. But we have not received a report on it from our service providers," said Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, General Manager of eCompany.

Sea-Me-We 3 (South East Asia Middle East Western Europe 3) and FLAG are the two operators whose undersea cables were severed.

"Nobody expected two of our service providers to face an outage problem but this has happened and we are working to ensure that 100 per cent connectivity is achieved."

The disruption occurred due to faults in two undersea cables off the coast of Mumbai and Karachi resulting in a breakdown of eight international links out of 20.

On the question of delay on the part of Etisalat to inform it's customers about the problem, Julfar said: "The repair works themselves will not take time. In the case of FLAG, a cable ship is on its way and is expected to reach Mumbai today. A request for a permit from the Indian government to start repair activities has already been submitted. Repair work is expected to be completed by next week. In the case of Sea-Me-We 3, a repair ship is already in Cochin awaiting permission from the Indian government to start repair activity. According to estimates, the repair of this cable is also expected to be completed by next week."

Once the cables have been repaired, connectivity would be restored immediately, assured officials. The telecommunications giant refused to elaborate on the loss of revenue incurred by them due to the fault. "Right now, our main priority is to remedy the damage. We do not have any figures relating to losses," said Julfar.

Etisalat is also planning to make heavy investments in two additional links to ensure that the problem does not recur in future.

"We plan to increase the current 20 links to 29 by the end of the year as we seek to increase the bandwidth in a phased manner. This would involve an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. This has been done as a goodwill gesture for our customers unlike other countries who haven't really done much to solve the problem," stated Julfar.

In October 2005, Etisalat will also be able to use the bandwidth provided by Sea-Me-We 4 submarine cable network. The cable has 32 times the initial capacity of the existing Sea-Me-We 3 system. Etisalat had also added an additional link last week as an immediate measure.

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