ISLAMABAD: Internet speed will suffer a decline of up to 25 per cent during its peak usage hours due to disruptions in one of the six cable systems providing internet and broadband services to the country, sources in the industry said on Tuesday.

The sources said that one small internet cable system was severely damaged probably by some vessel activity, with the result that internet supply to the country dropped by over 10 per cent.

Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL), which operates the cable, said one international submarine cable system, named AAE-1, was cut and the company arranged alternative channels for bandwidth to meet the requirement of internet usage in the country.

“More capacity will be added within a couple of days,” a PTCL spokesman said, adding that customers might face slight service degradation across the country till the addition of more bandwidth.

While PTCL claimed the impact on the service for the customer was not serious, internet service providers received complaints about slow downloading and connectivity problems.

PTCL, PTA say alternative arrangements made to meet peak hours requirement

“Peak hours in the internet business are from 6pm to 11pm, and complaints have started after 7pm today,” Nayatel CEO Wahaj Siraj said.

There are currently six international submarine cable systems connecting Pakistan, including SMW3, SMW4, SMW5, IMEWE, AAE-1 and TW1. PTCL has the landing rights for SMW3, SMW4, AAE-1 and IMEWE cable systems. AAE-1 lands at Clifton beach close to Captain Farhan Ali Shaheed Park, while SMW3, SMW4 and IMEWE land at Hawksbay beach.

The other two submarine cable systems are operated by Transworld Associates Private Limited and its TW1 and SMW5 land at Hawksbay beach and terminate at Transworld’s cable landing station in Karachi.

According to the sources, around five terabytes (or around 5,000 gigabytes) per second internet lands in the country and AAE-1 was a small cable with a maximum capacity of around 600 gigabytes.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) regulates the submarine internet cable business like other IT and telecom functions.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the PTA acknowledged that a fault in one of the international submarine cables had been reported in the sea near Karachi affecting some internet traffic during peak hours. “However, alternative arrangements to provide uninterrupted internet services to the users have been made by relevant service providers by obtaining additional bandwidth and capacity to meet the requirements,” the PTA said.

The regulator also said it had directed the operators to ensure uninterrupted internet services through alternative arrangements.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2021

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