http://www.telecommagazine.com/newsglob ... ID=AR_4670
Undersea cable cut disrupts Mideast and India communications
FLAG Europe and FT work to restore network connectivity
by Kendrick Struthers-Watson
Mon. December 22, 2008
A French cable ship, the CS Raymond Croze, has begun repairing two badly damaged cables in the Mediterranean that were severed on Friday, Dec. 19, disrupting Internet and telephone communications. Sources indicate the cables were cut within five minutes of each other, possibly by a trawler net. A robot submarine will locate the ends of the cables on the sea bed and bring them to the surface to be reconnected.
Egypt says it has been able to restore most of its communications by rerouting services, but other parts of the Middle East will remain badly affected. Cable experts have warned that it may be several days before the fault is repaired and that the effect could have serious repercussions on regional economies.
Experts from France Telecom Marine arrived at the site of the damage to the SEA-ME-WE4 and SEA-ME-WE3 lines aboard the Raymond Croze on Sunday, said spokesman Louis-Michel Aymard. Their first task was to send the remotely operated submarine, named Hector, to the sea bed to search for the two ends of each line. It is unclear as to how long the repairs will take as the trawler could have dragged the cables several kilometers from their normal positions.
Once located, the remote submarine will bring the cable ends to the surface and repairs can then take place on board the 3,200-ton vessel which has a facility for this purpose. This is a specially fitted out jointing room for both coaxial and fiber-optic cables. “We have to fix the cable fiber by fiber and it’s a very large cable,” said Aymard. France Telecom said it expected to repair SEA-ME-WE4 by Dec. 25 and SEA-ME-WE3 by the end of the year.
A third line, operated by FLAG Telecom, was also cut and will be repaired by another ship. In January the same line was damaged off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, severely disrupting internet and telephone communications in the middle Middle East for days, although only tow lines were snapped. A few hours before the three lines were cut, a suspected sub-sea earthquake damaged a local GO-1 cable to Malta disrupting the island’s communications.
This is not the first time there's been trouble along these cable routes. Last January, two of the three cables connecting Europe with Asia via the Middle East were cut. What is more pressing about the current situation is that all three cables were affected.
Until these cables are fixed, service providers in the Middle East and South Asia must route their European traffic through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Despite the problems these cable cuts have caused, Alan Mauldin, Research Director for Telegeography, believes that new cable construction should help prevent future outages. "Many new cable systems are slated to enter service between Europe and Egypt in the next few years, including Telecom Egypt’s TE North cable, Orascom's MENA system, FLAG's HAWK cable, the IMEWE consortium cable, and the EIG consortium cable," he said.
Mauldin added that while constructing multiple cables does not guarantee against outages, the introduction of these new systems will provide additional routing options and improve resiliency.