Flag Telecom expects that its two cables that were damaged in the Middle East last week will be repaired by Sunday, the company said in a bulletin on Thursday.
Breaks last week in the Flag Telecom Europe-Asia cable, owned by India’s Reliance Communications, and on the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable, owned by a consortium, disrupted Internet and other communications to the Middle East and India.
Indian service providers were able to avoid a major crisis by diverting traffic from the Mediterranean routes to links in the Asia-Pacific region. Increased latency of traffic on account of the new routing, however, resulted in slower Internet access and poor quality for voice communications, according to the Internet Service Providers' Association of India (ISPAI).
Large Indian outsourcers, who depend on communications and the Internet for their business, said the impact on their business was marginal, as they already have enough redundancy in their communications infrastructure. Smaller operations were, however, hit. Some call centers in India have privately reported frequent drops in calls from customers.
Flag Telecom also reported last week that another submarine Internet cable owned by the company, called Falcon, had been cut Friday at a location 56 kilometers from Dubai, on a segment between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. This cable is also expected to be repaired Sunday, the company said.
The damage to three cables in the area has sparked off speculation in blogs that there was sabotage. Flag Telecom said on Thursday that the break in the Falcon cable from UAE to Oman was because of an abandoned ship anchor, though it did not give a reason for the break in its Europe-Asia cable.
The breaks in the Middle East have helped to emphasize the need for adequate backups to the existing links, particularly as premium traffic from India’s outsourcing industry travel through the Middle East cables, said Rajesh Chharia, president of the ISPAI.