IS your Internet connection running frustratingly slow? Are your e- mails not going? Are you having problems with mobile connectivity? The bad news is that worse is headed your way in the coming days after a band of scuba divers hacked undersea cables off the coast of Egypt last week.
India’s access to overseas Internet content has been disrupted after four crucial undersea cables were damaged. The entire access link is now being routed through submarine cables across the Pacific after the disruption on the Atlantic route. Major Indian telecom companies such as BSNL, MTNL, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices have been facing Internet disruptions and slowdowns but they expect normalcy in the next 10 days or so. The majority of voice and data signals are transmitted through these cables.
The four cables that have been sabotaged include EIG ( Europe India Gateway) that connects India with 11 European, African and West Asian nations, TGN- Intra Asia Cable System ( TGN- IA), SEA- ME- WE4 South East Asia– Middle East– Western Europe4) and I- ME- WE ( India- Middle East- Western Europe). The repairs could take anywhere between a few days and more than a week.
“ We have cross- connected our network in different cable areas in the affected cable.
We have also aligned our network tariff through three other cables on Atlantic route,” said a top Bharti Airtel official. Vodafone India said it does not have exposure to network via cable submarine, so it is not affected. A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the seabed between landbased stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. The first submarine communications cables, laid in the 1850s, carried telegraphy traffic. Modern cables use optical fibre technology to carry digital data, which include telephone, Internet and private data traffic.
State- run BSNL said its networks have slowed down by at least 21 per cent. “ Because of this disruption, BSNL has lost around 21 per cent of its total international bandwidth. BSNL is pursuing with its international bandwidth partners to restore the connectivity expeditiously,” said a BSNL official. Action is being taken by BSNL to divert the domestic traffic judiciously ensuring that the request for Internet bandwidth is passed on the international gateway only if found necessary.
“ This sudden unexpected bandwidth reduction in the international bandwidth is suspected to cause some delay in accessing various international sites and their responses,” the BSNL said in a statement. Reliance Communications, which has a good number of data subscribers, said all its cable systems that operate under Reliance Globalcom are normal. “ Reliance has 200 gigabits of available capacity to serve the needs of the impacted service providers,” said a top RCom official.
A telecom ministry official said the recent sabotage of submarine cables was not an isolated case. “ In 2008 there were three separate incidents of major damage to submarine optical cables. The incident caused damage involving up to five high- speed Internet submarine communications cables in the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East between January 23 and February 4, 2008, which led to Internet disruptions and slowdowns in India and the Middle East,” said the official.
The official said that the international consortium of operators in the affected region are working on repair and restoring services of the affected submarine cable system.