Etisalat counts cost of undersea 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  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 UAE telco is promising that internet services will be back to normal this week, but said it will not be offering compensation to any customers affected by poor service. Executives at Etisalat said it had been “hit very hard” financially by the outage, which saw almost half of the UAE’s main international lines severed in the Indian Ocean. Repairs to the cables are expected to be completed this week. “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 relying on twelve connections running through Europe. The breakdown also 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. 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.

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