Countries across the Middle East are sans Internet connections due to a cable break on Wednesday. Two lessons: The Internet in some areas lack redundancy and telecommunications infrastructure is weak. And companies that outsource customer service operations offshore need to plan ahead.
Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology on Wednesday formed an emergency task force to fix a cable that cut off Internet services and international communications in the Middle East. In the U.S., this outage abroad wouldn't be a big deal--until your customer service operations mostly housed offshore go down.
Dr. Tarek Kamel, Egypt's minister of communications and IT, said his group is working on finding "alternative communication channels" and rerouting call centers to other undersea cables. According to Egypt's assessment, the country had a 70 percent Internet outage and international communications at offshore call centers were impacted by about 30 percent.
Bloomberg reports that Egypt will start repair operations on Feb. 4. For now the goal is to reroute traffic.
In other words, it'll be a few weeks before access gets back to normal. You know some of these undersea cables aren't exactly diversified in some countries. If you have offshore operations you may want to review those contingency plans--especially if you were hit by this outage.
Postscript: I've conducted a few searches for information on contingency plans for offshore operations and didn't find a lot of information (whitepapers, stories and otherwise). The lack of information that turned up was a bit stunning given that one cable could sever access to your call center. Reading between the lines it could be that disaster recovery isn't given much thought before making a decision to go offshore.