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Third Cable Outage Hits Middle EastThird Cable Outage Hits Middle East

As if two Mediterranean cable cuts weren't enough, FLAG Telecom's Falcon cable, off the coast of Dubai, gets damaged as well

February 1, 2008

2 Min Read
Third Cable Outage Hits Middle East

Connectivity woes in the Middle East caused by disruption to two submarine cables in the Mediterranean were compounded Friday when a third cable was cut, this time in the Persian Gulf.

According to a bulletin from FLAG Telecom Ltd. , damage to its Falcon cable was reported at 5:59 a.m. GMT (12:59 a.m. EST) off the coast of Dubai, on the segment between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co. (du) , the UAE's alternative fixed and mobile operator, issued this statement Friday:

"The new development has added further complications to the existing cuts on the FLAG Europe-Asia and SEA-ME-WE4 cables. This morning's cable cut has impacted all international voice calls through the du network. Severe congestion and degradation of international voice calls have occurred as a result of this morning's incident. National calls, national SMS and internet access were not and continue not to be affected by this new incident."

The carrier, which was already experiencing disruption to international call quality from the first cuts, is redirecting its international voice traffic through incumbent Etisalat 's network, which runs over a different sub-sea route. (See Du Updates on Cable Outage.)

State-run Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel) had restored 76 percent of its Internet connectivity by Thursday, but it was not immediately clear how it was affected by the new outage.

The loss of service was not as disruptive to business in the region as it might have been, given that Friday and Saturday are the weekend in Muslim countries.

Du says the cause of the breach is yet to be identified, and it will be some days before it's repaired. FLAG states: "The repair ship has been notified and expected to arrive at the site in [the] next few days."

Meanwhile, service is gradually being restored to carriers across the Middle East and South East Asia affected by the damage to the FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SEA-ME-WE4 consortium cable earlier this week. Carriers are re-routing traffic via SEA-ME-WE3 and other systems. Latency remains an issue though, as voice and data streams travel around the globe via the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. (See Subsea Cable Outage Hits Mideast, India and TI Sparkle Restores Service.)

FLAG says it has been able to restore circuits for some customers and is arranging alternative routes for those who weren't covered under its "Pre-planned Restoration service."

The operator reports that a repair ship is expected to arrive at the Europe-Asia cable on February 5 and will take about a week to carry out the work.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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