Two undersea cables off Egypt, UAE, repaired

Two undersea cables off Egypt, UAE, repaired

Services on two of three broken undersea cables providing Internet services to parts of the Middle East and Asia have been restored after both cables were repaired, an Indian-owned cable operator said on Sunday.

FLAG Telecom, a subsidiary of India's No. 2 mobile operator Reliance Communications, said in a statement the breaks in its FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA) and FALCON cables had been repaired and services routed back through these cables.

Web access in south Asia and parts of the Middle East was disrupted after breaks occurred in segments of two cables off Egypt's northern coast nearly two weeks ago, forcing service providers to re-route traffic.

This was followed by a breach in the FALCON cable between Dubai and Oman.

"The customer circuits have been normalised on FEA and Falcon that were earlier restored on alternate routes due to cable cut last week," the FLAG statement said.

Repair work on SEA-ME-WE 4, the second cable cut near Egypt, was also expected to be completed by Sunday.

A spokesman for Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which co-owns SEA-ME-WE 4, said there were no updates as yet.

VSNL has said it restored a majority of its Internet connectivity to the Middle East and South Asia within 24 hours of the breach, using other cables.

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

One of the biggest disruptions of modern telecoms systems was in December 2006, when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake broke nine submarine cables between Taiwan and the Philippines, cutting connections between southeast Asia and the rest of the world.

Internet links were thrown out in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.

Traffic was rerouted through other cables, but it took 49 days to restore full capacity.