BREAKING: Internet broken, North America-Asia cables damaged

Summary:Interoute, the internet networks company, reports that three of the four internet sub-cables that run from Asia to North America have been damaged, according a post just published to the Times Online's Tech Central blog.The cables carry more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America.

Cable
Interoute, the internet networks company, reports that three of the four internet sub-cables that run from Asia to North America have been damaged, according a post just published to the Times Online's Tech Central blog.

The cables carry more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America. Clearly, if you're reading this, it hasn't reached you yet -- but the AP is reporting mass outages in Egypt as of an hour ago.

According to Interoute via the post:

hearing that offices have lost their entire private network connectivity. As a result, users are unable to do their daily job over the internet and are turning to their mobile phones to communicate across the globe. This is having a knock on effect on the domestic voice networks, which are getting a surge of calls needing to be routed internationally. These calls need to be routed onto international gateways that pass voice traffic in longer directions around the world to avoid the cable breaks – causing more quality issues and risk more call failures, in turn causing more calls to be placed and increasing the pressure on local voice networks.

So expect to see a slowdown on mobile phone networks in those areas as a result of companies' attempts to continue conducting business, the post reports. It also means there may be financial havoc coming as well, since trading could be compromised.

The Times Online adds that it's a bit unusual to have this situation:

Major sub-sea cables break once a year. So companies have developed a fall-back plan. If one sub-sea cable is out, traffic is re-routed onto a second cable. In theory, a dual break, where both cables go out at once, is incredibly rare. Prior to January this year, it had not happened before.

The Bloomberg wire also has a story about the situation. Earlier this year, cable problems were reported between Africa and the Middle East.

UPDATED 5PM: The cause hasn't yet been determined, but Interoute's director of wholesale products, Jonathan Wright, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg that it sometimes happens because of a ship's anchor.

ALSO: Site Fibresystems.org has stats on the effect of nearby countries:

  • Saudi Arabia: 55% out of service
  • Djibouti: 71% out of service
  • Egypt: 52% out of service
  • United Arab Emirates: 68% out of service
  • India: 82% out of service
  • Lebanon: 16% out of service
  • Malaysia: 42% out of service
  • Maldives: 100% out of service
  • Pakistan: 51% out of service
  • Qatar: 73% out of service
  • Syria: 36% out of service
  • Taiwan: 39% out of service
  • Yemen: 38% out of service
  • Zambia: 62% out of service

The site also noted that "most of the B to B traffic between Europe and Asia is rerouted through the USA" and that "traffic from Europe to Algeria and Tunisia is not affected, but traffic from Europe to the Near East and Asia is interrupted to a greater or lesser extent," as evidenced by the list above.

The site reports that the cut is located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, on sections linking Sicily to Egypt.

Is this affecting anyone's global network out there? Tell us in TalkBack.

Topics: Browser, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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