Internet connectivity still remains slow in several Middle East countries due to the cable damage near Egypt, Iran and Dubai. An improvement is not expected soon as operators claim there are many complexities involved in fixing the problem. In addition, all voice calls, corporate data and video traffic were also affected.
The first two cables, off Alexandria in Egypt, were cut on January 23. Over the weekend a looped cable in the Gulf waters was cut in two points, off Dubai and off Iran's Bandar Abbas. The cuts have raised many conspiracy theories on their reasons.
However, the International Cable Protection Committee, an association of 86 submarine cable operators dedicated to safeguarding undersea cables, has declined to speculate on the cause of the breaches, adding investigations were underway.
In the UAE, an estimated 1.7 million Internet users have been affected by the recent undersea cable damage, an expert said, quoting recent figures published by TeleGeography, an international research Web site. In the UAE, nearly 90 per cent of Internet traffic is routed through undersea cables and only 10 per cent is done through the satellite.
Quoting TeleGeography and describing the effect the cuts had on the Internet world, Mahesh Jaishanker, executive director, Business Development and Marketing, du, told Khaleej Times: “The submarine cable cuts in FLAG Europe-Asia cable 8.3km away from Alexandria, Egypt and SeaMeWe-4 affected at least 60 million users in India, 12 million in Pakistan, six million in Egypt and 4.7 million in Saudi Arabia.”
A total of five cables being operated by two submarine cable operators have been damaged with a fault in each. These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia, the FLAG Europe-Asia near Alexandria, FLAG near the Dubai coast, FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran and SeaMeWe-4, also near Alexandria.