updated 05:25 pm EST, Fri December 19, 2008
Asia cut off due to break
Broken underwater cables sever global communications International Internet and phone communications have been severely affected between Europe, the Middle East and Asia due to a break in three underwater optical fibre cables, according to a Friday BBC News report. The three cables normally carry 90 percent of phone and Internet traffic to the Middle East and 65 percent of traffic to India, with services to Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Taiwan and Pakistan also taking a big hit. Experts warn the disruption will have serious consequences on regional economies.
Thus far, the cause of the break is unknown, though seismic activity was reported near Malta shortly before communications went down. The report states the FLAG FEA, SMW4, and SMW3 lines are severed, which are located near the Alexandria cable station in Egypt and run across the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. France Telecom said it is unclear what caused the break, but it sent out a ship to fix the line between Italy and Egypt, though the fix could take until December 31st. A fault was also reported on the GO submarine cable located about 80 miles away from Sicily. Interoute manages part of the optical fibre network.
While the issue does not directly affect North America, access to certain websites based in the affected regions may be restricted or unusually slow.
The same lines off the Egyptian coast were also broken earlier this year, prompting many in the industry to express concerns over its safety. If the fourth cable breaks before repairs can be made, there will be a total communications blackout of the Middle East, the report maintains.