Report: SEA-ME-WE3 cable cut again

SEA-ME-WE3, an undersea fiber-optic cable linking Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe, has been cut again, slowing Internet access to subscribers in Australia, according to a report Monday in The Australian newspaper.

The cable was damaged by sand-mining operations in Indonesian territorial waters about 50 kilometers south of Singapore. Some customers of Telstra's BigPond Internet service experienced delays at the weekend, despite Internet traffic being rerouted to two other cables, according to the report.

Repairs to undersea fiber-optic cables have taken around a week in previous cases, and in this case cannot begin until Indonesia gives permission for a repair ship to enter its territorial waters, The Australian said.

Last December, a ship damaged the Asia-Pacific Cable Network (APCN), a 12,000-kilometer undersea fiber-optic cable linking Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, slowing Internet traffic for several hours.

In September 2001, Internet traffic in Asia almost came to a complete standstill when SEA-ME-WE3 was cut by a ship's anchor 30 kilometers off China's south coast.

In July 2001, the Southern Cross undersea cable was damaged by a ship just off the east coast of Australia, disrupting Internet services for over 12 hours. Southern Cross connects Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Hawaii to the West Coast of the U.S.

In November 2000, Australian Internet users were almost isolated when SEA-ME-WE3 was damaged south of Singapore, not far from the latest break. At that time, Telstra used SEA-ME-WE3 to carry 60 percent of its international data traffic.

In September 1999, an earthquake in Taiwan damaged the APCN, which at the time was used to carry most Internet links from Singapore towards the U.S., and effectively isolated Singapore from the Internet for 12 hours.

The 39,000-kilometer SEA-ME-WE3 cable is the world's longest undersea fiber-optic cable, and has 40 landing points in 34 countries, connecting Australia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It is owned by a consortium of telecommunication carriers including Singapore Telecommunications, Japan's KDD, France Télécom SA, Telekom Malaysia Bhd., PT Indosat and Deutsche Telekom AG.

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David Legard

Computerworld
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