Two undersea communication cables were severed on Tuesday, January 29. As a result, Internet access to much of Egypt, as well as parts of India and Saudi Arabia, was disrupted.
One cable was damaged near Alexandria, Egypt, and the other in the waters off Marseille, France. In India, an estimate says that roughly 60 percent of the country's Internet users were affected, although many large companies were able to fall back on backup plans, thus limiting business disruption.
“In some way or another every company took a hit,” said R S Parihar, an executive with the Internet Services Provider’s Association in India. Internet traffic heading east from India was disrupted, and many companies rerouted their Internet traffic to the west instead, he said.
Fortunately, most disrupted communications were quickly rerouted through other cables. Still, the physical damage that resulted in the outage will take several days to fix and could drastically impact the region.
Damage to undersea cables can result from earthquakes or movement of geologic faults, but they are generally rare. They can also result from the dragging anchor of a ship.
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.