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Cable damage hits internet service

March 28, 2013

— File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Subscribers of most internet service providers faced inconvenience on Wednesday after a submarine cable was damaged, affecting services from north Africa all the way to Pakistan and India.

According to some service providers struggling to make alternative arrangements to provide an uninterrupted service, the internet speed was down by 40 to 50 per cent, causing difficulties in browsing.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL) said an international consortium of operators in the region which managed the submarine cable system would begin work soon to fix the damage.

The South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 4 (SMW4) cable was cut 750km from Alexandria, Egypt, affecting internet services in the entire Far East, Middle East, Pakistan, India and north Africa.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s Director General (Enforcement), Sajjad Latif, said the service had not been shut anywhere. “However, the quality of service was affected due to reduction in the bandwidth.” A ship was on way to conduct repairs.

“These are giant companies across the world which have to maintain international standards. The extent of the damage is still not clear, but past record shows that repairs do not take more than two days,” Mr Latif said.

This was the second time since 2007-08 where the quality of service suffered. In some other cases the disruption went unnoticed.

A user, Farzana Agha, thought it was one of the usual slow service issues with her local service provider. She had minor problems sending her emails.

Amir Khalil, a security expert in one of the cellular service companies, had to send out an email to all employees, warning them of the slow service.

“The email failed to go out in the first attempt and took about five minutes to send the second time.”

Word over the grapevine was that the cable was damaged at three places and could take a few weeks to repair.