New undersea cable severed, disrupts web traffic

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Telecommunication lines between Europe, the Middle East and Asia have been severed, resulting in lost connections via phone and the internet in the affected regions. This is the second time in this year when these cables have been cut, with the first happening earlier in the year, where two lines were only snapped – all in the Egyptian coast.

According to the Associated Press, the cable between Italy and Egypt, with the communications ministry in Egypt saying that the Internet is almost “completely down or working sporadically”. Yemen and Sudan are reported to also have phone and Internet difficulties, but it is unknown if it linked to the cables being cut.

It is also thought that 65% of traffic coming to India is down, and services in Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Pakistan have also been affected by the cable being cut.

The BBC is reporting that the FLAG FEA, SMW4 and SMW3 cables have been affected, with a fault being reported on the GO submarine cable, which is 130 kilometres off the Italian island of Sicily. There are four lines that connects telecommunication services from Europe to the Middle East, and with three being cut, people are hoping that the fourth does not get severed as well.

"We’ve lost three out of four lines. If the fourth cable breaks, we’re looking at a total blackout in the Middle East," Jonathon Wright, director of wholesale products at Interoute (which manages part of the network), told the BBC. "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.”

"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," he added.

France Telecom has said that they will send out a ship to fix the cables, but that could take until the 31st of December to fully repair the undersea line.

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