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 PC World 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

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?