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Jordan’s Internet services affected by undersea cable damage

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by privately-owned Jordan Times website on 3 February

[Report by Hani Hazayimah: "Marine Cable Damage Reduces Internet Capacity"]

Amman: Internet services in Jordan have been drastically slowed because of breaks in two intercontinental cables that link the majority of the Middle East and Gulf countries with Europe and the US.

The damage, which took place Wednesday, was sustained by two undersea cables, the Fibre-optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEAMEWE4) cables, and caused disruption in international traffic throughout the region and the Gulf countries. A third undersea cable was severed in the Arabian Gulf, but had no effect on Jordan's connectivity.

According to Reuters, the damage was attributed to a ship's anchor, which dropped on the cable off the Egyptian coast.

Repairs on the damaged cables are expected to take 10 to 12 days, according to the owners of the FLAG and SEMEWE4, Reuters reported.

Jordan Telecom Group (JTG) will take a! ll necessary measures to add further international capacity to minimize the partial impact that affected its services, according to a company statement.

Jordan has a back-up link via satellite offering capacity of 23Mbps downlink and 12Mbps uplink. Normal Jordan Internet traffic is about 95Mbps.

JTG CEO Mickael Ghossein said the company has extensively invested in building a diversified and protected international network over the past two years which has made it possible to maintain continuity in the service.

"The group is taking all necessary measures to add further international capacity and restore the quality of service it usually delivers in a very short time," Ghossein added.

"'We appreciate our customers' cooperation and understanding of this unfortunate incident which is beyond our control," he added.

In the meantime, "Internet connectivity in Jordan will be slower due to the failure which brought the company's Internet service capacit! y down to 60 per cent," JTG Chief Financial Officer Raslan Diranieh to ld The Jordan Times yesterday.

"The company is providing Internet service to around 700,000 customers in the Kingdom and we are taking necessary measures to increase our international capacities to minimize the impact of the failure on the Internet service speed," he added.

As a result of the company's efforts to make up for the drop in quality of Internet services, Diranieh said, it will have to sustain extra charges up to 10 times the usual service value, although he stressed that customers would not bear any additional financial costs.

On Friday, a third undersea cable was cut between the United Arab Emirates and Oman in the Arabian Gulf. However, Diranieh said this cut had no further effect on the company's services.

The cable damages have left India's vital outsourcing industry scrambling to deal with major communication disruptions and some businesses have said they could take up to two weeks to return to normal.

It has also disrupted Inte! rnet services across the Middle East and other parts of South Asia.

A repair ship is expected to arrive by Tuesday to restore the FLAG cable that was damaged off Egypt, JTG said.

Source: Jordan Times website, Amman, in English 3 Feb 08



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