MidEast internet disruption to continue to Jan 4

France Telecom says further disruption caused on Dec. 26 by earthquake.

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By  Arabian Business staff writer Published  December 30, 2008

Internet and telephone traffic between the Middle East and Europe will continue to be disrupted until Jan. 4 after a repaired submarine cable in the Mediterranean Sea suffered further damage, France Telecom said on Tuesday.

The South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 cable, also known as Sea-Me-We 4 or SMW4, between Italy and Egypt was damaged by an underwater earthquake on Dec. 26, a day after traffic had been restored following an earlier breakage, a spokesman for Paris-based France Telecom was quoted by newswire Bloomberg as saying.

The cable is one of three links that carry more than 75 percent of Internet traffic between Europe and the Middle East. The cable systems, which run from Alexandria in Egypt to Sicily, were first severed by an anchor Dec. 19.

An anchor also damaged the cables near Alexandria in January after bad weather conditions forced ships to moor offshore.

France Telecom's repair ship "has arrived in the zone, and is in the process of localizing and repairing the cable," the spokesman told the newswire. Full connectivity, previously anticipated by the end of the year, won’t be restored until Jan. 4, he said.

"Almost all of the interrupted traffic has been rerouted," he said. "Costs are higher because you take a route that is not the main one, you reroute via the network of other operators and pay them a fee.”

The spokesman said the rerouting is working and the company had had "very few" complaints from customers regarding data and voice traffic.

"Both for us and our clients, it’s important to repair as soon as possible," Aymard said. "On the data part there can be traffic slowdowns for certain destinations."

France Telecom owns 6 percent of Sea-Me-We 4, which is 20,000km long and links 14 countries. The connected countries include Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France.

The French telephone company has a 3.6 percent stake in SMW3, which is 40,000km and serves 23 countries.

After the initial damage, France Telecom’s repair vessel restored service on Sea-Me-We 4 on Dec. 24 and 25. The cable then suffered a new break in the morning of Dec. 26, about 400km off Alexandria, the spokesman said.

France Telecom diverted its repair ship to fix the latest break, instead of the planned repair of another cable called Sea- Me-We 3 by Dec. 31.

The repairs off Alexandria should be completed by the end of Jan. 2, it said.

Telecom Italia 'Teliri' vessel, which restored service to a third broken cable called FLAG FEA on Tuesday, will now repair Sea-Me-We 3, estimated to be restored by Jan. 4, according to the spokesman.

3604 days ago
Dilawer Ali Dahraj

I hope France Telecom repairs all cable breaks and faults by Jan 4 as stated so that i can call my internet service provider and ask him for the reason for slow cable modem internet speed given all is well from the links connecting Pakistan.

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