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Middle East, South Asia internet cables

BBC Monitoring

Flag Telecom expects that two of the damaged submarine cables will be repaired by Sunday, the company said in a bulletin on Thursday, 7 February.

Repair crews had reached the site of the damage. "The FALCON Cable cut between Dubai (UAE) and Al Seeb (Oman) is due to a ship anchor, an abandoned anchor (weighting 5-6 tonnes) was found," Flag Telecom announced on its website.

The company, a wholly-owned unit of India's second-largest mobile operator Reliance Communications, owns two of the four submarine cables damaged in several separate incidents 30 January to 3 February: The Fibre-optic Link Around the Globe, FLAG Europe-Asia and, secondly, the FALCON cable which runs from Egypt to India.

The FLAG Europe-Asia cable cut was reported at 0800 gmt on 30 January around 8.3km away from Alexandra cable landing station between the Egypt-Italy segment. The FALCON cable cut was reported at 0559 gmt on 1 February around 56 km (34.8 miles) from Dubai, UAE on t! he segment between UAE and Oman.

The FALCON-cable repair crew had recovered one end of the cable and cable joining work was in progress, said the company. The FLAG cable crew was using remotely operated submarine vehicles (ROVs) for tracking along the cable path.

FLAG said it had observed capacity problems to London on the FLAG system but customers' circuits had been transferred to alternate paths. It had completed full restoration of its services to customers within a short time of the cable outage, it said. On the FALCON service, an alternate path was established with the help of Saudi Arabia's Integrated Telecom Company (ITC) by connecting AL Khobar and Jedda on a terrestrial route.

The company said it planned for the network to become fully resilient with the addition of a FLAG Mediterranean cable currently being installed.

According to Reuters, reporting from India, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), which co-owns SEA-ME-WE-4, a cable damaged near! Egypt on 30 January, expected repair work there to take two days.

On 1 February, VSNL said it had restored a majority of its internet connectivity into the Middle East and South Asia within 24 hours of the breakdown, using other SEA-ME-WE cables. Egypt lost more than half its internet capacity because of the breaks last week and the telecommunications ministry said last weekend it did not expect services to be back to normal for at least 10 days.

UAE telecom firm du (lower case 'd' as used by company) said on 4 February its internet and telephone services were largely back to normal after it used a terrestrial cable across Saudi Arabia to circumvent the problem. Many Gulf states were affected by damage to the FLAG cable, as well as damage on the separate Haloul-Das line running between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Source: BBC Monitoring research 7 Feb 08



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