Undersea cable cut affects 50% of Pakistan's internet traffic

Published: March 27, 2013

Internet speed slowed don by 60 percent when an undersea internet cable got cut in the Arabian sea.

KARACHI: A fiber optic cable got cut in the Arabian Sea near Karachi resulting in nearly 60 per cent decrease in internet speed across Pakistan on Wednesday.

Nearly 50 per cent of Pakistan’s internet traffic faces disruption as SMW4 – one of the four undersea cables that connects the country with internet was damaged.

The disruption occurred around 12pm on Wednesday. The country’s internet traffic is currently running on two cables instead of four.

SMW is also referred to as SEA-ME-WE (South East Asia Middle East and Western Europe).

PTCL and Transworld – the internet gateways for Pakistan – provide internet using this fiber optic cable.

This is the second submarine cable that has been effected after IMWE which was cut more than a week ago.

A consortium of internet service providers is working on the issue but they have not come up with a resolution time for this problem.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • broadband user
    Mar 27, 2013 - 4:41PM

    Oh not again!!!

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  • Burjor
    Mar 27, 2013 - 5:47PM

    Can a knowledgeable person answer the following. 1.At what depth is the fibre optic cable laid.? . 2. What is the covering material of the cable. i.e. the material which is in contact with the sea water. 3. What would be the possible reasons for the cable being damaged, i.e.can fish, other under water creatures bite the cable. 4. Can the cables be damaged by ships. Are the cables accessible. i.e can underwater divers reach the cable?. 5. How does one know the precise locations of the damaged portions.?. 6. Who owns the underwater cables? are they owned by countries, multinationals ?. 7. Who maintains underwater cables, who do the people who repair these cables work for? 8. Are the cables monitored with cameras.? 9. Are laying new cables the responsibility of the government. 10. How exactly are cable performance monitored, and who’s responsibility would this be.

    I think answering the above questions would enhance the readers knowledge.

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  • evo user
    Mar 27, 2013 - 5:52PM

    Will this affect evo as well ?

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  • Ayesha Bhaalay
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:17PM

    My online gaming pings to European servers jumped from 200ms (previously) to 600ms . This is awful awful news for gamers. I can live with the slow browsing and downloads meanwhile.

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  • Paki
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:46PM

    Recently a report published on BBC listed Pakistan among the countries who are prone to losing internet access due to very limited number of cables or connections (whatever you call them).

    So what are the related government departments and ISPs doing. They should cooperate and eliminate this danger. After all Internet has become a backbone for many businesses.

    Do something Ministry of Technology!

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  • Karim
    Mar 27, 2013 - 6:59PM

    LOL people are losing millions due to slow browsing and downloading and people here are more concerned about gaming :P

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  • Saurabh
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:19PM

    I’m from India. Seems like Indian Internet Backbone is affected as well. Got super slow speeds in opening international websites, although indian one’s work fine.Recommend

  • Seema
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:19PM

    election stunt by PPP?

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  • Mar 27, 2013 - 7:21PM

    LoLz, it affects every sort of internet in Pakistan.

    Whats sad is this is not an international issue since only Pakistan is affected; which could mean weeks/months/years till it could be fixed.

    STEP 1: Paper work

    .
    .
    .

    Step 50: Paper work

    Step 100: Dua

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  • Moore
    Mar 27, 2013 - 7:59PM

    @Seema: Yes, bilawal Bhutto has gone underwater and cut this cable, just to point out the fact that PPP government provided better Internet. Get a life :pRecommend

  • Fudge
    Mar 27, 2013 - 8:22PM

    @Karim:
    to each their own!

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  • someone
    Mar 27, 2013 - 8:52PM

    @Burjor:
    1. Mostly at the depth of the sea bed.
    2. The outermost covering for cable is polyethylene.
    3. Mostly by natural disasters like earthquakes or the anchors of the ships falling over these cables
    4. Yes Ship’s anchors do damage the cables if dropped on them.Cables are accessible but the repair work is not done underwater.
    5. I don’t know
    6. Mostly the big telecom consortium formed by many telecom companies owns the cables.They divide the bandwidth depending upon their investments.
    7. The consortium maintain the cables and they have sometimes own ships or hire ships to be sent for repair work.Staff is also hired by consortium for repair work.
    8. Cables are not monitored by camera.
    9. Governments can be part of consortium through their state owned telecom companies for international telephony/internet requirements.
    10. Consortium staff monitors the cable.

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  • Faraz
    Mar 27, 2013 - 9:20PM

    My Odesk work is on pending
    Hep!!!…

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  • an indian friend
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:08PM

    Can a knowledgeable person answer the following. 1.At what depth is the fibre optic cable laid.? .
    Usually 50 feet to 200 feet

    What is the covering material of the cable. i.e. the material which is in contact with the sea water.
    usually a rubber and plastic based compound with Kevlar.

    What would be the possible reasons for the cable being damaged, i.e.can fish, other under water creatures bite the cable.

    no fish etc do not harm the cable

    Can the cables be damaged by ships. Are the cables accessible. i.e can underwater divers reach the cable?.
    Yes in-fact its the ships that damage the cable as at times they anchor in places far from the cable. and all cable positions are mention on their GPS but bad weather drags those ships for miles and its drags the anchor with it.

    yes underwater divers can reach the cables if not then they use robots

    How does one know the precise locations of the damaged portions.?
    each cable when it laid is marked on a map and those coordinated are uploaded to maritime GPS map server.

    Who owns the underwater cables? are they owned by countries, multinationals ?.
    Different large telecom companies, some are owned by multiple companies from different countries ( consortiums )

    Who maintains underwater cables, who do the people who repair these cables work for?
    Yes .. special ships that have cranes and robots that lift the cable out of the sea in the middle of the sea splice it make a joint and then put it back.

    Are the cables monitored with cameras.?
    in some cases yes when close to shores or land pipes.

    Are laying new cables the responsibility of the government.
    depends on who owns the telecom company they either invest with another country or if they are rich they can buy their own. but they are very very expensive

    How exactly are cable performance monitored, and who’s responsibility would this be. with satellites and sonar. special management companies are out there who only do this work.

    I think answering the above questions would enhance the readers knowledge.

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  • =)
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:35PM

    Glad that there is some disruption. Got an unexpected and rather lucky break from working like a mule on a server abroad that can be accessed through vpn only. Sorry guys but I hope it stays this way at least for another day or two :P

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  • mhsn
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:41PM

    i cant watch videos, they keep loading, i miss my favt tv series.

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  • someone
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:53PM

    now only thing can do is “watch bollywood actress picture on Google image “Recommend

  • Lord J
    Mar 27, 2013 - 11:02PM

    @=) its mean and you know that dont you? anyways enjoy the break while it lasts. cheers.

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  • Osama
    Mar 27, 2013 - 11:20PM

    Heading: Undersea cable cut affects **50%** of Pakistan’s internet traffic
    Summary: A fiber optic cable got cut in the Arabian Sea near Karachi resulting in nearly **60 per cent** decrease in internet speed across Pakistan on Wednesday.
    Please correct the inconsistancy in figures.Recommend

  • SAPHIRJAVID
    Mar 27, 2013 - 11:53PM

    @evo user:
    its is affecting alot…..im using evo wingle and my torrent downloading speed is just 25 kb/s!!!

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  • Nikhlesh
    Mar 27, 2013 - 11:56PM

    Ignore this news…read the actual news here
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21954636

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  • ali
    Mar 28, 2013 - 12:35AM

    inetrnet not working upto 12 hrs a day

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  • mhsn
    Mar 28, 2013 - 12:47AM

    @someone hahaha u r right, any idea how many days it gonna last????

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  • Mar 28, 2013 - 12:48AM

    Telecom Egypt CEO Mohamed al-Nawawi said Wednesday that the Armed Forces have arrested the saboteur accused of cutting an underwater internet cable earlier that day, causing internet services to drop by 60 percent.

    According to reports, the SMW4 maritime cable was cut at 8 am around 750 meters north of Alexandria, which slowed internet service in Egypt and other countries.
    But industry officials said they were hard at work to get services up and running.

    “[Internet services] will be back 100 percent on Thursday morning,” he said. “We are using alternative feeds.”
    Meanwhile, Communications Minister Atef Helmy told Turkish Anadolu news agency on Wednesday that the “internet crisis will be resolved in 20 hours,” adding, “There will be gradual improvement in the service within the coming hours.”

    Nawawi said Telecom Egypt would bear all repair costs for the cable and another that was cut Friday.

    Link.net, another ADSL provider, said the incident will impact internet speed for all service providers.

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  • mhsn
    Mar 28, 2013 - 12:50AM

    did shark ate that cable or what??? or someone cut it off with a knife, lolz,

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  • Ali
    Mar 28, 2013 - 2:03AM

    Yucks! I watched the news and it said the cable is cut under the Mediterranean Sea near Egypt and over here the location is different, whom to believe?

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  • Fnatic
    Mar 28, 2013 - 5:58AM
  • LoLington
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:34AM

    @ What`s the Problem:
    Source?

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  • RICHb
    Mar 28, 2013 - 5:06PM

    Great, shame it wasnt the phonelines too, as it would stop all the irritating call centres wasting my time.
    And Karim, YES our gaming experience is all we care about. Why would you possibly think we give a damn about your business? Jog on.

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  • Mar 28, 2013 - 7:20PM

    will some one tell me,when will it get set?????

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  • abdullah
    Mar 28, 2013 - 7:29PM

    man i am a gamer my ping is now 600ms instead of 200ms :(Recommend

  • Mar 28, 2013 - 7:33PM

    @What’s The Problem , I KNOW IT !@#:
    plz can u tell, when is this probelm gonna set???

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  • EdB
    Mar 28, 2013 - 8:24PM

    @Burjor initial questions
    Great answers by “someone” Mar 27, 2013 – 8:52PM
    and
    “an indian friend” 22 hours ago

    The technical answer to #5 is with TDR – Time Domain Reflectometry – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timedomainreflectometry

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  • Mar 30, 2013 - 12:00PM

    OK, can anybody tell us all when is this problem gonna be rectified……….

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  • AngryFighter
    Mar 30, 2013 - 12:47PM

    Man…epic latency issues..Online gaming ping went from 250 to 590~…WHEN will this end??I cant even see on the web the date they ought to have give for the repair work to be finished. All I see is that repair work is under progress…-.-

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  • LoLington
    Mar 31, 2013 - 7:30AM

    Seems like second week of April from various unconfirmed sources.
    I`m guessing more like 10th – 14th April.

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  • Waqar
    Mar 31, 2013 - 3:51PM

    @Ayesha Bhaalay: so you play LoL too :p

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  • Izhar
    Mar 31, 2013 - 7:12PM

    The matter is even worse for me. I am getting speed of 0.9MB for downloads with my 2MB PTCL DSL at 7:00 PM connection. Ping is more than 800ms. When the matter going to be resolved.

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  • Izhar
    Mar 31, 2013 - 9:26PM

    @Izhar:
    sorry the download speed is 0.09MB and not 0.9MB

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  • Farhan
    Apr 2, 2013 - 10:25PM

    Where exactly the cable got cut? And by the way the internet speed has gone totally”Mayday” can’t even use skype.Recommend

  • Afaq
    Apr 2, 2013 - 11:45PM

    @Osama:
    In internet bandwidth and speed are two different things, you may have higher bandwidth but you may have slow speed and vice versa or have both high speed and high bandwidth, to my knowledge bandwidth is how much data you are getting, and speed is how much faster you are getting it, If i have 1mbs connection i can only get 1mbs bandwidth but if i am getting that data from a server in Pakistan which is closer to my location and it doesn’t pass through all those international routers then i be getting a faster response from site, if you ping dns server from ptcl its latency is usually 65ms, but if you ping Google its latency is around 180ms to 230ms, and if you ping a server from Europe its around 300ms to 400ms (now due to damage i am getting 1000ms to 2000ms), so my internet speed is slow bcz its taking 60% more time for the same data to come to me which effects live streaming data services suffer mostly like online gaming etc, but when i download a file from international server i usually get 2mbs speed on my 4mbs connection and sometimes up to 4mbs, but with same poor latency because its either taking a long route to desired server or routers are holding up data because of line chokes, so 50% less bandwidth. So you can say slow speed can result from less bandwidth if data requirement is higher than bandwidth. I hope it makes sense now :P

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  • Insider.pk
    Apr 7, 2013 - 1:00AM

    @evo user:
    Yes, because evo is provided by ptcl, and ptcl provides internet through these cables.

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  • Insider.pk
    Apr 7, 2013 - 1:00AM

    Anyone know when this problem will be solved?

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  • Lieutenant Ali
    Apr 12, 2013 - 10:40PM

    @insider.pk i think it has been solved

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  • Talha Amjad
    Apr 15, 2013 - 10:57PM

    Can any one tell me that whn this problem will be solved. I’m using 1MB broadband internet of PTCL and the speed should come 115kb/s or more but it come like 50 to 60kb/s

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