February 7, 2008 / 1:36 PM / 11 years ago

Three undersea cables seen fixed by weekend

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Repairs on two out of three broken undersea cables providing data services to parts of the Middle East and Asia should be completed by Sunday, while the third should be fixed by Saturday, cable operators said.

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province, June 20, 2007. Repairs on two out of three broken undersea cables providing data services to parts of the Middle East and Asia should be completed by Sunday, while the third should be fixed by Saturday, cable operators said. REUTERS/Stringer

Undersea cable connections were disrupted off Egypt’s northern coast last week when segments of two international cables were cut, affecting Internet access in the Gulf region and South Asia, and forcing service providers to re-route traffic.

A third undersea cable, FALCON, was later reported broken between Dubai and Oman.

Cable network operator FLAG Telecom, a wholly-owned unit of India’s No. 2 mobile operator Reliance Communications, said on Thursday repair work on a section of the FLAG Europe-Asia cable between Egypt and Italy and on the FALCON cable system was progressing steadily and was likely to finish by February 10.

Separately, India’s Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which co-owns SEA-ME-WE 4, the second cable cut near Egypt, expected repair work there to be over in a maximum of two days, a company official said.

Last Friday 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 said on Monday its Internet and telephone services were largely back to normal after it used a terrestrial cable across Saudi Arabia to circumvent the problem.

In India, Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers Association, said some problems remained as cable operators had not rerouted all the traffic on alternative routes.

“Lot of issues are still there till the cables are fixed,” he said.

FLAG said there had been some interruption in links to London but it had transferred customers to alternate paths.

The International Cable Protection Committee, an association of 86 submarine cable operators dedicated to safeguarding submarine cables, says more than 95 percent of transoceanic telecoms and data traffic are carried by undersea cables.

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Charlotte Cooper

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