From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Dec 23 2008 - 14:26:04 EST
Internet connection cut between Europe, Asia and Africa 'This outage is like
a severed artery'
*Bobbie Johnson*, Technology correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 21 December 2008 11.14 GMT
Millions of internet and telephone users across the Middle East and south
Asia are struggling to get connections after damage to undersea cables
linking Europe, Africa and Asia took down a major route for internet
As much as 70% of internet and telephone traffic between the continents has
been affected by the outage, which was caused by damage to a string of
cables that run under the Mediterranean between Italy and Egypt. The lines,
which hit the Egyptian coast at Alexandria and go on to connect to Asia,
were probably damaged either by a ship's anchor or a minor earthquake,
according to officials. A repair vessel is expected to reach the damaged
sector between Sicily and Tunisia by this evening.
Jonathan Wright, a director at telecoms company Interoute, said that the
outage could have a devastating affect on business and communication around
the world. "The potential impact of an outage of this size cannot be
overestimated – it is like severing a major artery. Global internet
connectivity is reliant on sub-sea cables connecting countries."
The incident comes less than a year after a similar outage brought a halt to
communications between Europe, Africa and Asia. Those problems were believed
to have been caused by anchors ripping through the same cables, and were
exacerbated by simultaneous damage to lines through the Middle East.
As many as 75 million people were affected.
It is not yet clear whether today's outage is the same order of magnitude.
Despite widespread wireless internet and satellite connections, global
communications still rely largely on the vast webs of fibre optic cables
that cover the planet. The lines take years of planning to install.
The latest damage is to cables that are among the most vital information
pipelines – and are responsible for the majority of all connectivity in the
Middle East and south Asia.
According to Alan Mauldin, research director of communications analysis
company TeleGeography, the problems in the region are only likely to be
remedied by a series of new cables which are currently being planned. "Many
new cable systems are slated to enter service between Europe and Egypt in
the next few years," he said.
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