Thursday, February 7, 2008

Suspicions Grow on Undersea Cable Breaks

The series of breaks last week in undersea cables carrying much of India's Internet traffic to Europe and points West has been the subject of much speculation because of a report from the Egyptian government that its camera surveillance showed no ship traffic in the problem area. That would exclude the possibility that the breaks were caused accidentally by a ship dragging its anchor, and point to sabotage as the likely cause.

"There's a growing uneasiness in the global Internet community" wrote tech blogger Mark Wedland at "While no evidence of sabotage has been forthcoming, the four breaks seem to many observers to stretch the bounds of coincidence."

Colonel R.S. Parihar, the secretary of the Internet Service Providers Association of India told the International Herald Tribune that the incidents have been a wake-up call to the global telecommunications industry. The cables were "owned by private operators, and there are no governments or armies protecting these cables," he said.

The breaks have not had a major impact on India's largest outsourcing companies because they use satellite channels or have backup cable routes running overland, but some 85 million internet users in South Asia and the Middle East experienced slow connections. The countries most affected are India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates

Two of the severed lines are owned by Indian companies, and they have people working with the crew of an Egyptian repair ship off Alexandria. Repairs are expected to take about a week.

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