Etisalat counts cost of web outage

ETISALAT has committed to a multi-million dollar expansion of the UAE’s overseas phone links after a disruption of the Emirates’ internet service this month.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  August 14, 2005

ETISALAT has committed to a multi-million dollar expansion of the UAE’s overseas phone links after a disruption of the Emirates’ internet service this month. The telco admitted it had been “hit very hard” by the outage, which saw almost half of the UAE’s main international lines severed in the Indian Ocean. It said repairs to the cables would not be completed until later this week, but that it would not be offering compensation to customers affected. “We are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars because of this disruption,” said Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, general manager of Etisalat’s internet services arm, eCompany. “Nobody thought that we’d have two cables damaged at the same time,” he added. The slowdown, which occurred on August 2, was apparently caused by ships sinking in bad weather and severing the cables. It affected the UAE’s eight eastern links to the US via the Far East, leaving it to rely on 12 connections running through Europe. The breakdown also badly affected other Gulf countries’ overseas links, as well as those of Pakistan and India. The two systems’ operators, Flag Telecom and Sea-Me-We, have sent ships to repair the faults, but Etisalat said they had been delayed while securing permission to start work. “It takes a week to get through the paperwork,” said a spokesperson for the UAE operator. “You will see a big improvement next week.” Etisalat said it had added another four, high-capacity international lines since the outage and would connect another five by the end of the year. The Emirates’ international capacity will also be increased significantly when a new submarine network, Sea-Me-We 4, is brought online in October. The cable will have 32 times the initial capacity of the existing Sea-Me-We system, Etisalat said. “If something similar happens [the internet] won’t be affected because we will have Sea-Me-We 4,” Julfar said. Julfar added that the telco is in discussions with Flag Telecom, which could see it connecting to the UK company’s upcoming system, Falcon. Etisalat also plans to install facilities in Europe and the Far East, which would allow it to interconnect with service providers there and give its network more redundancy. In June, Arabian Business revealed that Dubai Internet City, which provides phone and internet services to businesses and consumers within certain areas of the emirate, is planning to build a facility which will connect its network to Falcon. It currently uses Etisalat to provide it with its international connections.

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