Egypt Goes Dark: Mediterranean Data Cables Toast

Large parts of Egypt are without Internet at the moment, multiple sources report.

Something has gone wrong with several undersea cables running from Europe to the Middle East that together connect much of Egypt into Europe’s network. And it’s not the first time it’s happened either — in January Egypt lost much of its Internet access after a boat accidentally cut the cords.

Cell phone and Internet service throughout the Middle East and Asia is being affected, and service may not be fully restored until December 31.

France Telecom’s Orange mobile-phone unit said the cable failure “greatly disturbed” the traffic between Europe and parts of Asia. At one point as much as 55 per cent of voice traffic in Saudi Arabia, 52 per cent in Egypt and 82 per cent in India was out of service, according to Orange.

The Internet traffic “from Mumbai to London has now been re-routed via Hong Kong which may lead to congestion and increased latency on this route,” Reliance said in an e-mailed “traffic disruption update,” adding that it is working with the affected customers to restore all services…

“You can re-route the data through other cables, but that increases traffic and can potentially create bottlenecks,” Interoute’s Wright said. “So Internet connections may slow down and some phone calls could get disrupted.”

A Bloomberg source blames a wayward ship anchor:

In January, an anchor severed the cables outside Alexandria after bad weather conditions forced ships to moor off the coast.

“The information we have is a bit sketchy, but chances are that it will have been an anchor again,” Jonathan Wright, Interoute’s director of wholesale products, said in a telephone interview. “Close to 90 per cent of all the data traffic between Europe and the Middle East is carried on these three cable systems.”…