Qatar Internet Users Suffer Limited Impact

Pratap John/Gulf Times

Doha, Dec 21: Internet users in Qatar will face access problems and slowdown in service speed for the next few days because of loss of capacity due to breaks in submarine cables under the Mediterranean, possibly caused by a ship’s anchor.

Work to repair the cable is under way, although this could take several days to complete, a Qtel spokesman said yesterday.

Qtel said Internet services in Qatar had been affected by the breaks in three of the four Internet sub-cables, but that strong operational capacity will be maintained because of the country’s large number of alternate routes for transmission.

The loss of Internet capacity in Qatar has been estimated at 47%, he said.

The three broken cables are estimated to carry 75% of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America.

Internet users around the world are reporting significant disruption to services, with major outages reported in a number of Middle Eastern and African countries. In some cases, companies that rely on private networks that use the Internet sub-sea cables have been forced to move operations onto public Internet networks, creating additional global strain.

However, Qtel’s engineers reported that loss of capacity in Qatar was being kept below 47%, because of Qatar’s robust Internet strategy, he said.

Qtel’s network of alternative transmission routes and back-up cables has ensured that Qatar remains connected and is only experiencing limited effects. Engineers are also working to source additional alternative routes to maintain speed and connectivity.

Creating crisis and back-up procedures for the Internet has been a major strategic focus for Qtel over recent years. In addition, the company has helped create private networks for a number of key corporate clients, who have so far reported smooth operations, supported by Qtel enterprise services.

“Work to repair the cable is currently under way, although this could take several days to complete. Users in Qatar might experience some slowdown in Internet speed and access problems while these repairs are undertaken. However, Qtel is committed to restoring full access as soon as possible,” he said.

Internet and telephone communications between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, were severely disrupted, France Telecom said.

“The causes of the cut, which is located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, on sections linking Sicily to Egypt, remain unclear,” a statement said, while a spokesman said it was unlikely to have been an attack.

“There are two theories: either the anchor of a ship, which could have displaced them ... or an earthquake. We think it’s the first theory,” the spokesman said.

The company said it was sending a ship to fix the lines but that it would not arrive until tomorrow and that it could take until December 31 before normal service was restored.

Most business-to-business traffic between Europe and Asia was being rerouted through the US, the firm said, but regular communications between Europe and several Asian countries have  been disrupted since early yesterday.


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