Algerian earthquake disrupts Middle East's Internet capacity
Operators in the Middle East region have failed to diversify their international Internet capacity routes, resulting in bandwidth that is not sufficiently robust to weather unanticipated capacity disruptions, asserted the latest Event Flash by global market intelligence and advisory firm IDC.
The report comes in the aftermath of the disruptions in the region's international Internet capacity, caused by the tragic Algerian earthquake that affected the submarine cable routes of Flag Telecom and Se-Mea-We 3, two key providers of international Internet connectivity for the region.
"Telecommunications operators across the region suffered anywhere from 20 percent to 95 percent reduction in their international Internet capacity as a result of the incident," according to Mohsen Malaki, senior analyst in IDC CEMA's Telecommunications Group.
Most operators in the region rely heavily on the Flag Telecom and Sea-Me-We 3 cables for IP-peering with Internet backbones in Europe and North America. Several countries have started developing a more diversified routing of their international Internet capacity since the disruption, through either satellite connections or submarine cable capacity routed through Asia/Pacific, providing an alternative route to reach the North American Internet backbones.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia currently have submarine capacity through Asia/Pacific, while Internet service providers (ISPs) in Kuwait and the incumbent operator in Oman have increased their satellite bandwidth.
All countries are still searching for alternative routes that would allow them to boost capacity back to pre-earthquake levels, but only a few have had success. Many are looking to Emirates Internet Exchange (EMIX, owned by Etisalat) for the needed bandwidth, since the exchange maintains a diversified route for its capacity through submarine cables in both directions (through Europe and through Asia/Pacific).
"The abrupt, and prolonged, disruption in Internet services is a clear indication of the need for a more diversified route for international Internet traffic in the region," asserted Malaki. "It is also clear that most operators have failed to develop reliable contingency plans to maintain their international capacity levels in the event of an emergency."
Countries of the region with high Internet penetration do enjoy a comfortable margin of international Internet bandwidth utilization level during normal operations. However, most lack a diversified route for their international traffic.
The IDC Event Flash concludes that operators in the region need to maintain a more robust set of international Internet connections, through multiple routes of submarine and satellite links, along with a well-developed plan for a smooth transition to alternative routes in the case of an unexpected disruption.
This could be managed cost effectively through agreements for backup connectivity with regional Internet exchanges such as EMIX, which would, in turn, be able to maintain multiple international Internet bandwidth routes from international carriers at a more favorable price.
Obstacles such as the limited number of cable routes linking the region to Europe and North America and expensive satellite links, however, remain long-term problems for the region's operators.
IDC is a division of IDG, international Information Technology (IT) media, research and exposition company. More than 700 analysts in 43 countries provide global research with local content. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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