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February 1, 2008 8:12 am

Damage to sea cables disrupts India internet

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Internet connections from India to Cairo were severely disrupted on Thursday after undersea cables were damaged in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, with some estimating it could take up to 10 days to restore services to normal.

India’s main outsourcing companies, which rely on internet connections to service their overseas customers, said they had not been badly hit, but individual consumers in the subcontinent reported severe disruptions. It was not immediately clear how the cables were damaged.

Middle-East telecom operator Omantel said it was caused by a tropical storm in the Mediterranean, which forced Egypt to close the northern mouth of the Suez Canal on Tuesday. An official at one undersea cable operator in India said the damage was caused by ships dropping anchor on the cables near Alexandria when the storm warning was given.

However, while the disruptions caused internet chaos for some individual consumers in Indian cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, leading IT outsourcing companies said they were able to cope through contingency plans.

“It hasn’t affected us at all,” said an official at Infosys Technologies, India’s second-biggest computer services firm. “We’ve got alternates and backups in place.”

The major cables affected included the SMW-4, owned by a consortium of 16 telecommunications companies, and linking South-east Asia to Europe via India and the Middle East. The other major system is run by India’s FLAG Telecom.l

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