Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pakistan, India Internet Outage--Access Disrupted Again

Internet and telephone traffic between Europe and the Middle East and Asia has been seriously disrupted since Friday when three major underwater data lines were cut in the Mediterranean, according to media reports.

The main damage is to the four submarine cables running across the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal. The damaged cables include Sea Me We 4 and Sea Me We 3 lines, which connect countries between Singapore and France as well as the Flag FEA cable route, which stretches from the U.K. to Japan, a France Telecom spokeswoman told Network World. A fault was also reported on the GO submarine cable 130km off Sicily.

France Telecom isn't sure what caused the cut, she said. "We have two assumptions. The first is that it could be an underwater earthquake," she said. "Or it could be simply a ship in the area which has cut the cable." The BBC says that some seismic activity was reported near Malta, where the break apparently occurred, shortly before the cut was detected Friday morning. Ships dragging anchors are also known to have cut submarine cables in the past.

The telecom company listed 14 countries affected by the current problem. The Maldives are 100 percent down, followed by India, which has 82 percent disruption. Qatar, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates were the next most widely affected areas with about 70 percent service interrupted. Disruptions for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan range from 51 percent to 55 percent. It should be noted that the Internet penetration in Pakistan is about 10% versus 5% Internet penetration in India, according to ITU.

Here are the details of impact from outages reported by France Telecom:

* Saudi Arabia: 55% out of service
* Djibouti: 71% out of service
* Egypt: 52% out of service
* United Arab Emirates: 68% out of service
* India: 82% out of service
* Lebanon: 16% out of service
* Malaysia: 42% out of service
* Maldives: 100% out of service
* Pakistan: 51% out of service
* Qatar: 73% out of service
* Syria: 36% out of service
* Taiwan: 39% out of service
* Yemen: 38% out of service
* Zambia: 62% out of service

Pakistani blogger Masud Reza is reporting that PTCL ITI (Information Technology Infrastructure) is running at 25% reduced capacity. Internet users are experiencing high latency and a degraded service level resulting in extremely low speed on downloads.

TW1 also has the same issue. TW1 (Tansworld 1) relies mainly on the SMW4 western segment.

The impact of the cable cuts is being felt much more in India than its neighbors. For example, 82 percent of India's voice traffic capability to Europe was out of service early Friday, although that situation has now improved, according to reports.

A maintenance boat is en route to the site of the cut, but it will not get there until Monday, and it will take as many as two weeks for the situation to return to normal, according to France Telecom.

This is the second time this year that the Internet services have been disrupted in parts of the Middle East and Asia after damage to undersea cables in the Mediterranean. In January 2008, there was disruption to 70% of the nationwide network in Egypt, a government official told Reuters. There was also disruption in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. India also suffered up to 60% disruption, a national industry body told Reuters news agency in January of this year. Pakistan was affected with TW1 customers suffering the most. PTCL switched its Internet traffic from SMW4 to SMW3.

Jonathan Wright - director of wholesale products at Interoute which manages part of the optical fibre network - told the BBC that the effects of the break would be felt for many days.

"This will grind economies to a halt for a short space of time," he told BBC "If you look at, say, local financial markets who trade with European and US markets, the speed at which they get live data will be compromised."

"If you think how quickly trades can be placed, if they are suffering from bad latency times, then by the time a trade is placed, the market may well have moved on."

"We've lost three out of four lines. If the fourth cable breaks, we're looking at a total blackout in the Middle East," said Mr Wright, according to BBC report.

"These three circuits account for 90% of the traffic and we're going to see more international phone calls dropping and a huge degradation in the quality of local internet," he added.

"Normally you would expect to see one major break per cable per year. With four you should have an insurance policy. For this to happen twice in one year, on the same cable, is a serious cause for concern."

A second subsea cable to Malta is currently being laid.

More redundancy, multiple routes and better undersea cable protection should be explored to prevent the continuing negative impact of the repeat damage to the undersea cables.


waqas said...

yeah i was having prob with internet couple of days ago... well i really like ur blog and information is really useful...


Anonymous said...

I am surprised that Jadev did not blame LeT, Islam, Mullah, Pakisan, ISI for this....

Anonymous said...

I am more surprised that Riaz did not blame this on India's treatment of its minorities and link it to one of his posts on 'India's Abu Gharib'

Riaz Haq said...

I bet the ill-treated minorities and the poor in India do not have the luxury of knowing or caring about the Internet access. The Internet in India is for the privileged few who are part "India Shining", with one of lowest penetration of the Internet in the world (5% in India vs 10% in Pakistan, per ITU... The rest are probably struggling and foraging for food to stay alive.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'm sure Jamat Ud Dawa is busy providing schools with internet access and kalashnikovs to poor people across Pakistan.

Maybe you should do some reading about rural connectivity in India.

Riaz Haq said...


You say, "Maybe you should do some reading about rural connectivity in India."

Please tell me where I can read about it?

Do you have data that disputes the ITU Internet penetration figures of 10% in Pakistan vs 5% in India?

Your comment about Jamat-ud_dawa just shows your obsession and it is irrelevant for this discussion.

Anonymous said...

You can do your own research - look up people like Ashok Jhunjhunwala, E Choupal, etc. Admittedly the penetration levels are low, but the future looks bright.

Unlike in other countries.

Also dont take pride in petty facts like having greater internet access. Whats the point of surfing the net when you still need to beg the IMF for money?

Anonymous said...

define victory...declare victory..In case of Afghanistan...there is no definition...

Riaz Haq said...

You say "define victory...declare victory..In case of Afghanistan...there is no definition..."

What do you think about "eviscerate Taliban"? Here's a quote from Pentagon in 2001:

The Pentagon yesterday declared that 10 days of air strikes have "eviscerated" the ruling Taliban militia, as the United States greatly increased the number of troop-hunting fighter jets swarming over Afghanistan.

In recounting the heaviest two days of bombing, officials disclosed that for the first time all four Navy carriers in the region took part in operations Monday. This included the USS Kitty Hawk, which an Army source said is carrying Army Special Forces soldiers and Black Hawk helicopters.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the Pentagon's director of operations, said Navy fighter-bombers hit sites around the important ...

Riaz Haq said...


You say "Also dont take pride in petty facts like having greater internet access. Whats the point of surfing the net when you still need to beg the IMF for money?"

Pakistan faces many challenges, the economy being one of the most important ones. On the other hand, in terms of basic statistics of living standards such as poverty, hunger, etc , Pakistan is doing better than India.

If I were you, I wouldn't be so careless as to write Pakistanis off. There is an interesting piece that William Dalrymple wrote comparing India and Pakistan on their 60th independence day, after visiting both nations. Please read it.

Anonymous said...

No wonder, such a small percentage of Indians know how minorities are prosecuted, who killed Gandhi, why an honest police officers like Kirkerey was killed, why Hirsh Mandir needed to resign.... What to expect from these pseudo liberals.

Riaz Haq said...

PTCL brings 100 Mbits fiber to home service, according to Online News:

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has deployed its first ever Fiber to Home service based on Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology in Karachi.

PTCL with its commitment to provide the latest technology and innovative products to its customers has introduced its first ever Fiber to Home service in Karachi while this service is also available in Lahore and Islamabad as well, says a press statement received here on Wednesday.

GPON provides a capacity boost in both the total bandwidth and bandwidth efficiency through the use of larger, variable-length packets. It not only provides substantially higher efficiency as a transport network, but also delivers simplicity and superb scalability for future expansion in supporting additional services with lowest cost for all modes of operation.

With this unique capability PTCL has raised the bar of customer experience by many notches. Initially the service includes unprecedented voice quality on telephone, extremely fast and reliable broadband connectivity and digital television with amazing video quality.

PTCL’s SEVP, Business Zone South, Abdullah Yousef Abdullah said on this occasion, “PTCL will widely deploy Fiber to the home technology of which the first step has already been taken in some parts of Karachi giving our valued customers the opportunity to experience the latest technology and the best quality of service.

Our aim is to delight our customers with such innovative products right at their doorstep which suits their life styles and spending budgets”.