Internet Disrupts Across Asia: Issues with SMW3, SMW4 + Flag

Submarine Cables that are responsible for Internet and telephone communications between the Asia and Europe are reportedly cut down between Italy and Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea.

In this mysterious activity (can be co-incidence as well) all three major undersea cables called SE-ME-WE3, SE-ME-WE4 and flag got damaged today. The failures cut the flow of internet and voice data between Europe and Asia, and there’s no time frame for when communications will be restored, reported bloomberg.

Slow browsing; poor throughput and high latency problems are being experienced throughout Gulf, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and neighboring countries.

For most of the countries, including Pakistan, traffic has been routed now via east bound.

Bloomberg further reports that priority will be to recover the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable, then the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable. There is information from France Telecom that Sea Me We4 could be operating by Dec. 25 and that the situation should be back to normal by Dec. 31.

Businesses, especially  online one, call centers, BPOs and others are likely to be badly hit by this outage, which were already undergoing severe economic downfall these days.

The SMW4 cable, also known as SEA-ME-WE 4or South East Asia- Middle East-Western Europe 4 cable network, connects 12 countries: Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France.

undersea_cables_smw3-smw4

Via [bloomberg]

Update: Internet and Voice traffic in Pakistan has returned back to its (almost) normal state.

Update (Monday, Dec 22, 2008): A French ship has begun repairing both SeMeWe3 and SeMeWe4, reported BBC News. A robot submarine will locate the ends of the cables on the sea bed and bring them to the surface to be re-connected.

It is reported that both of the cables were cut within 5 minutes of each other, possibly by a trawler net. Many parts of the Middle East remain badly affected due to cable cut.

BBC reports on the topic as following

Experts from France Telecom Marine arrived at the site of the damage to the SEA-ME-WE4 and SEA-ME-WE3 lines onboard the cable ship, Raymond Croze, at 1330 GMT on Sunday, spokesman Louis-Michel Aymard said.

They then sent a remotely-operated submarine robot called “Hector” to the sea bed to begin the search for the two ends of each line.

It is unclear how long repairs will take, as a ship could have dragged the cables several kilometres from their normal positions.

Once located, the cable ends will be brought to the surface by the robot and repairs will be carried out in a special facility on the ship – a process that could take days.

“We have to fix the cable fibre by fibre, and it’s a very huge cable,” Mr Aymard told the Associated Press.

France Telecom said it expected to repair SEA-ME-WE4 by 25 December and SEA-ME-WE3 by the end of the year.

A third line, operated by FLAG Telecom, was also cut and will be repaired by another ship.

In January the same line was damaged off Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, severely disrupting internet and phone communications for many in the Middle East for days, although only two lines were snapped then.

A few hours before the three lines were cut, a suspected sub-sea earthquake damaged a local GO cable to Malta, severely disrupting communications to the island.

Update: SMW4 has been restored, hence communication in Pakistan is almost optimum.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • So thats why my browsing speed is down …. :D i was thinking that there is some kind of problem in my ptcl line

  • There is for sure a political cause behind all this, otherwise not in any case all internet cables can get damaged at same time…

    Al-Qaida behind this? or Pakistan?

    • @Zaman Shah, WOW zaman, Pakistan behind this..hahahahah, i think in few more months u all people will ask [Rest of comment edited by Admin]

  • Do you know if edge/gprs services are also affected {I don’t know if they are also linked to SMW3/4 or operates via satellite etc.}

    Anybody else knows any workaround for this? like anyway to get continous speed of 10 kb without any packet loss or high latency?

  • at last after 36 hours , i am able to surf sites ,otherwise i was limited to open google gmail and ptcl site only . I asked about this problem to ptcl broadband helpline and they told me that their international gateway is linked down and they are working on it

  • Zaman is right. These things don’t happen by accident but are usually part of a preplanned scenario. You should ALL take a look at the following video in the Video Gallery at PristinePakistan.com regarding Obama and the men behind him and what their strategy for India, Pakistan and the rest of this region is. Particularly pay attention to the last bit of part 1 and the firs bit of part 2.
    Once you have seen it, please comment back here and let people know what is going on. Share it with as many people as you can since it is important that we are aware rather than ignorant.
    @Aamir, you may want to do a piece about this.

  • Yes, its true. I am also facing same problem, I have office in Lahore and UK and USA. All have same problem

  • i am sure that the problem is not because the submarina. i don’t believe that three main cables cut at the same time just because the submarina!!!!

  • As per the recent updates on this outage,Mr.Rajesh Chhabria,President ISP Association of India has been quoted that France Telecom marine cable ship,the Raymond Croze has been mobilised to the affected location.The cable repair ship is expected to reach the incident site by 2200 hrs UTC on Dec 21,post which the repair work is expected to start.

    Nearly 82% traffic from India to Europe has been distrupted due to this mammoth outage.Mr.Chhabria is also quoted that there would be some relief in the scenario by the month-end as services would start resuming normalcy.

    The affected cables carry almost 90% traffic between Europe & West Asia.Apart of India , serious disruption in internet services is observed in countries like Saudia Arabia,Egypt,UAE,Malaysia,Pakistan,Qatar,Maldives & Zambia.

  • Amir bhai: I would request you to kindly update this thread when the problem has been resolved.

    Currently, I am seeing my good speed and almost normal latency {response time}, and I guess the problem may have been resolved.

  • I started having some issues with my internet (I use LinkdotNet) on friday. Usually it runs alright but I was having laughably slow browsing speed so I checked it and – lo and behold! – THIS had happened again.

    However, thankfully, it has been restored today and everything is working as normal. Downloads are a bit of a pain right now but everything’s back up! How’s everyone else faring?

  • Wateen record hit broadband market causing Etisalat(PTCL) to rollback its broadband infrastructure from pakistan.


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