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Pakistan experiences slow internet as submarine cable goes offline

Updated August 05, 2017

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) informed on Saturday that Pakistan is experiencing slow internet as IMEWE, the international underwater cable responsible for bringing internet to Pakistan, has gone offline due to technical problems.

A spokesperson from PTCL said that a major flaw in IMEWE had occurred near Saudi Arabia, while another official said the fault has disrupted the country's entire internet infrastructure.

The PTCL spokesperson also said that Jeddah has started making efforts to repair the cable, but added that "restoring the network will take some time."

"In its absence, PTCL is working towards an alternative network to provide users reliable internet," PTCL's Chief Business Development Officer Sikandar Naqvi told DawnNews

According to ProPakistani, two other submarine cables, SEAMEWE 4 and TW1, have been offline since last month due to similar flaws, which has resulted in a bottleneck after IMEWE's breakdown.

The loss of these three submarine cables leaves Pakistan relying on SEMEWE 3, SEAMEWE 5 and the AAE1 submarine cables, out of which SEAMEWE3 operates in a limited capacity, while the other two were installed only recently, ProPakistani said.

Fallback system

The 25,000-kilometre-long Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) submarine internet cable was brought online on July 2. It will now be put to the test as the bulk of the country's network load will fall on it until the IMEWE cable is usable again.

Along with Pakistan, the AAE-1 cable system connects Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France. It is the world's largest submarine cable system built in more than a decade.

It can provide the lowest latency express internet route among dozens of countries and regions across Asia and Europe, China Unicom, a key stakeholder in the project, had said in a statement when it was operationalised.