Cable cuts force Internet traffic rerouting around the world

Carriers report Internet delays with India, Middle East connections

Two fiber-optic underwater cables that were damaged Wednesday in the Mediterranean Sea near Egypt have resulted in Internet traffic delays for some US users trying to link to India and the Middle East.

The congestion and delay on Internet links due to the rerouting of traffic is measured in milliseconds, and while not considered dire, is noticeable, according to industry officials.

A preliminary investigation has linked the cuts to a ship's anchor that dragged and ripped into the two cables while the ship was anchored in an unusual location because of bad weather, officials said. Repairs could take days.

"Any interruption in service is important to us," said Linda Laughlin, a spokeswoman for Verizon Communications.

Because two cables were cut, the normal rerouting of Internet traffic is more complex than if only one cable had been damaged, Laughlin said. Much of the Internet traffic between the US and India and nearby nations that was normally traveling through the Mediterranean is now being passed the other way around the world, crossing the Pacific Ocean, resulting in milliseconds of delay, she said.

Laughlin couldn't estimate how many milliseconds, although one India-based company put the delay at one-third of a second.

Some Verizon customers in the US, including government agencies and Internet service providers with thousands of their own customers, have contacted Verizon to ask about the status of repairs, Laughlin added.

Verizon is part owner with a consortium of other companies of one of the two cables that was cut, referred to as the SEA-ME-WE4, while the other is owned by Flag Telecom Group in the UK Wednesday, a Flag official said repairs to that cable could take 12 to 15 days.

Laughlin said the SEA-ME-WE4 consortium was preparing a ship to make the needed repairs. A grappling hook aboard the ship will be used to find each end of the cut cable, and then bring the two parts aboard ship where they will be spliced back together with a fresh segment of optical fiber in a clean room, she said.

Some Internet traffic has been routed to a nearby Mediterranean cable known as SEA-ME-WE3, but much more of the traffic is routed the other way around the world, across the Pacific Ocean between Asia and the US, Laughlin said. Verizon has the ability to route traffic over 65 underwater cables. Overall, only a small portion of Verizon's customers have been affected by Wednesday's cable cuts, she said.

AT&T Inc. leases capacity on the SEA-ME-WE4, and some AT&T customers in the US have been affected as well, a spokesman said Thursday. "We are expecting to see some congestion just because multiple carriers are rerouting traffic," said AT&T spokesman Michael Coe. He said AT&T is awaiting word on a definitive cause of the cable cuts and the time it will take to repair them.

The ISP Association of India said traffic from India to the Atlantic region saw a 50% to 60% bandwidth reduction when the cables were first damaged, but others reported that reduction has been vastly improved as traffic was rerouted.

At Satyam Computer Services in Hyderabad, India, Internet traffic that used to travel through the Middle East is Thursday being routed through Singapore, resulting in as much as 350 milliseconds of Internet traffic latency, which "isn't a big problem," said a network and systems director at Satyam.

The IDG News Service contributed to this report.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?