Anchor found at cable cut site

Anchor found at cable cut site

Summary: Flag Telecom, the owner of two of the recently cut cables in the Middle East, says it has found an abandoned anchor near the site of one of the cuts. Cut # 2: FALCON Cable cut between Dubai (UAE) and Al SEEB (Oman)- The FALCON Cable cut between Dubai (UAE) and Al SEEB (Oman) is due to a ship anchor, an abandoned anchor (weighing 5-6 tonnes) was found.

Flag Telecom, the owner of two of the recently cut cables in the Middle East, says it has found an abandoned anchor near the site of one of the cuts.
Cut # 2: FALCON Cable cut between Dubai (UAE) and Al SEEB (Oman) - The FALCON Cable cut between Dubai (UAE) and Al SEEB (Oman) is due to a ship anchor, an abandoned anchor (weighing 5-6 tonnes) was found.

As most submarine cable experts suspected. Which may put to rest some of the more outrageous hysteria about the "four cuts in one week" paranoia.


I talked to Stephan Beckert of TeleGeography this morning, who had a few comments:

"People should put their tinfoil helmets on. Cable cuts are a part of life.
He said the first two cuts were serious and clearly impacted traffic. The other two -- Flag's Falcon cable and Quatar-UAE cable -- would never have been reported but for cables being in the news. The Falcon cable is actually part of a self-sealing ring, he added, "so the only ones who would have been hurt were people who didn't pay for "protected communications."

The conspiracy theories just don't make sense, Beckert said. "If you're a terrorist you're going from killing people to inconveniencing them. I'm all in favor of that kind of terrorism. If you're the U.S. military, you're also a heavy user of these cables, so that doesn't make sense."

He said there are approximately 50 cable cuts a year, 65 percent of which are due to fishing trawlers dragging heavy nets and 18 percent of which are due to ships' anchors. "They don't even track terrorism," he said. "Cable cuts are a routine part of the business."

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

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  • Of course, if it was a conspiracy, do you think they'd tell US?

    My theory is still valid: the anchor was actually a disguised weapon, dropped by a secret US submarine to prevent global warming data from being transmitted by eco-terrorists.
    terry flores
    • Are you wearing your tin foil hat?

      Cause if you are not.. your already mine! Let the programming begin!
      • Yes, and sitting in a Faraday cage.

        They's just prepping for another war in the region.

        Jack-Booted EULA
        • Elvis and LGM

          The "truth" is it is a conspiracy between Elvis and the "Little Green Men". Come on people accidents happen. The only reason this even made the news is because of where it happened.
    • Conspiracy

      I doubt cutting a cable would have much of an effect on the eco-terrorist. They could just hack a satellite uplink
  • Dammit!

    The truth always ruins a fun time...
    • One anchor found, and the entire mystery solved....

      C'mon guys. You're WAY too easy.
      • Anchor...Boat...Ocean - What could it mean?

        You're right - it's VERY complex. Especially when it is revealed there was "Ron Paul Revolution" bumper sticker attached to it.
      • Did you not read the article?

        The part where it said cable cuts happen about 50, thats FIFTY times a year. Why are these four even news worthy? Do we even care if the middle east has communications services beyond the fact that they pay for them?
        • 50 times per year, globally

          This is 4 cuts in one location in one week. Clearly you read the article, maybe you didn't quite comprehend it ?
        • That's because it hit a strategic road

          If there are some lessons to remember from this event, it's the fct that grouping lots of operators to operate a single very large capacity cable is a huge risk; it had a much higher effect this time because the affected cables were the newest ones with the largest capacities, that were deployed to replace each one a dozen of older cables, so there were less alternate routes than before.

          And yes, this is the conincidence in the same area that caused so much damages that it could affect countries on two continents, from Algeria to India and as well the communications between Europe and South-East Asia.

          The alternative routes for phone communications and for TV broadcast is still easy to find: satellites, despite of the longer roundtrip time. But for Internet, satellites are not a viable option, as it does not meet the demand for enterprise applications that require very high bandwidth on long distances (100 Mbps and more). These cables together were conveying dozens of Gigabits per second.

          That's a lot of TV programs, and millions of phone communications, in addition to Internet whose bandwidth consumption is always growing even though operators are trying to pacing the Internet traffic by proposing mirroring sites and content delivery networks to help limiting the bandwidth needed by interactive sessions.

          Note that most of the internet can be cached and proxied though mirrors, and the larget websites are already deploying mirrors worldwide to help limit their operating costs. However, the huge decrease of billing for phone communication offers little margins in case of failure of large cables: the alternate routes are very costly and can only be temporary.
      • I was thinking the same thing...

        That's why REAL investigators who look past the fire often find bullet holes in the bodies found in the fire.
  • Did the same anchor cut all 5?

    • No.

      Five different anchors cut them. Or a mudslide. Or a trawling net.

      The truth is so boring.
      • really fast boat, cut all 5 and missed being on satellite photos

        really fast boat, cut all 5 and missed being on satellite photos.
        Wow that boat was really moving!
  • alternate route?

    Just looking at the map it seems possible that a lot of fibers could be run from Alaska to Siberia. I don't think the water is too deep and there are some islands along the way.
    With plenty of redundancy under this one stretch of water and the rest of the world largely served by land based cable links, a more robust network ought to be possible.
    • Alaska route: bad solution.

      The route through Alaska in surface would not be very cute: on ground, there are either the risks caused by ice and many geologic risks in this area. Through ocean, you should know that this oceanic area is one of the most active one exposed to earthquakes in the world, with lots of magmatic movements, meaning that there's no stable sea floor, and the marine currents are extremely strong, so the cables will be constantly exposed to lots of torsions and could be damaged at any time by land slides and they would be easily hirt by moving rocks. The submarine floor in this area is very accidented, meaning that there are sharp angles; this oceanic floor is really very instable.

      It is also an area with lots of fishing activities, and if there is little risks of being damaged by anchors, the various tools used by fisheries to maintain their nets or lines open and maximize the fish catches are extremely dangerous for submarine cables. This is also a reason why most cables are avoiding the western coast of Taiwan in China sea: too much fisheries in this area on one of the richest continental shelf.

      Cables are then avoiding the extreme north of the Pacific and prefer going more directly by a road through the South (notably through Hawaii) There are also little economical interest to connect through Siberia (and also in Siberia the ground is not stable enough: the cables could not be buried, and there are too extreme variations in temperatures, causing damages with floodings in summer, and damages by frozing ice in winter.

      If Siberia and Alaska were not so much exposed now to the effects of global warming, a stable frozne ground would allow traversal with much less risk. It is however much more economical to put a cable on the deep oceanic floor than burying on the ground or on the near coastal continental shelf: cables are not buried there and not armored (due to the huge weight it would represent: cables can only resist to a traction of about 22-25 metric tons, produced by their own weight when hanging it from a boat), so they are much less costly to produce and repair there than on terrestrial area where it needs much more costly protections.

      If a cable cost 10 times more per kilometer to produce, it's best to choose a deep oceanic route that allows corssing much longer distances. The route through Alaska is not only costly per kilometer, but it is also more distant. Economically, it is not viable, except for limited local use, but not for large capacities.

      My opinion is the the other routes found to solve the Mediaterranean problem was to use a route through western Africa and then through South Africa to join Madagascar, Reunion, Mauricius and then India. Alternate routes can also go through South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, Kazakhstan and then to India. For joining Dubai there can exist a link from Israel using other Mediterranean cables, or through the coasts of Lebanon from Greece, and turkey through Cyprus. The Red Sea is not the only way to join the Emirates.

      Less heard was the fact that Algeria was also very affected by the cut. In the past there existed a cable coming from France, but this cable was put out of function when cables with much higher capacity entered in service through Morocco. But most of the connectivity from Algeria was through Egypt, because it is the biggest node in the area that interconnects the Midle-East (including Israel), Europe, Africa, and the natural and easiest door for Southern Asia.

      Don't forget another advantage of oceanic roads: they are in international waters, so no country can tax the use of their public domain, and cables can be operated by international consortiums of operators with less political or economical interests. Imagine what would be the cost for transmitting data, if each traversed country required taxes? The situtation is quite similar to the huge political interests in oil and gas pipelines.
    • volcanic islands

      "I don't think the water is too deep and there are some islands along the way."

      And the main reason why the water is not too deep is that this is a very hot geological point with many volcanoes and thousands of earthquakes in this area, including about a dozen each year with very high magnitude.

      Almost all those many islands on the way are active volcanoes!

      Not being deep is also a bad thing: the very active fishery can easily damage any cable that would be put there. It's then probably the WORST route on earth for any cable transmission.
  • The magic anchor theory

    1 anchor 5 cuts? Did the Warren commission find the anchor?
    I believe with all my heart that this 5 ton anchor fell from some ship deck and cut the first cable. Then a underwater volcano lifted this anchor and dropped it on the 2nd cable. then since we all know that fire does not melt steel(just ask Rosie ODonnell) the lava heated the anchor and made it bounce all over the place until it cut 4 more cables. It finally cooled down and settled back near the first cable. Oh yes it can happen!!!!
  • Single Anchor Theory?

    Arlen Spector where are you when we need you?

    Arlen please put together some cg graphics that show the trajectory of this single magic anchor as it ricocheted around undersea slicing all the cables before finally coming to rest where it was found? It would put our minds at ease :-)
    Johnny Vegas