Underwater cable damaged: Internet speed plummets by 60% nationwide

Published: March 28, 2013
Major fiber optic cable in Arabian Sea develops fault. PHOTO: FILE

Major fiber optic cable in Arabian Sea develops fault. PHOTO: FILE


Internet speed across Pakistan plummeted by nearly 60% on Wednesday when an underwater fiber optic cable was damaged in the Arabian Sea near Karachi.

South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE)  4, one of the four submarine cables that connects the country globally via the internet, was damaged around noon on Wednesday – only a couple of weeks following the breakdown of India-Middle East-Western Europe (I-ME-WE) fiber optic cable that has yet to be repaired.

As a result, internet services in the country will likely remain disrupted for an indefinite period. Internet service providers were unable to provide a timeframe on when the problem will be resolved.

Shortly after the disruption, internet users across Pakistan faced a host of problems ranging from intermittent to slow internet connectivity. Many complained that their browsing speed had decreased significantly.

“This is a result of a fault in the undersea cable line to Pakistan through Alexandria, Egypt. The fiber optic undersea cable SEA-ME-WE-4 was affected beyond Egypt for currently unknown reasons,” Wateen Telecom said in a statement.

The fault disrupted about 50% of Pakistan’s internet traffic, according to Wahaj-us-Siraj, Convener of Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK). The network breakdown has affected over a dozen countries, he said.

Explaining further, the ISPAK chief said Transworld Associates (TWA) and Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) act as the internet gateway to Pakistan and provide bandwidth to local internet service providers. TWA and PTCL are connected with four undersea fiber optic cables that include I-ME-WE, SEA-ME-WE-3, SEA-ME-WE-4 and TWA-1.

The country’s internet traffic is currently running on SEA-ME-WE-3and TWA-1 and catering to the entire telecommunications traffic, which has caused massive traffic congestion, Siraj said.

The breakdown of SEA-ME-WE-4, however, has caused more problems than I-ME-WE.

“It’s like you have four roads catering to the traffic; what will happen if two of these roads are closed,” Wahaj said.

“The estimated time to repair has not been announced as of yet, as PTCL and TWA are in communication with SEA-ME-WE-4 consortium members to determine the time it will take to repair the cable,” Wateen Telecom added.

SEA-ME-WE 4 provides a telecommunications link between Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France.

The cable is approximately 18,800 kilometres long, and provides the primary internet backbone between South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Europe.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • jack Buaer
    Mar 28, 2013 - 10:23AM

    I havent seen any issues with internet I love how news reporters try doom and gloom.
    Internet is not slowing.


  • LoLington
    Mar 28, 2013 - 11:35AM

    Im surprised this news was just uploaded and its already outdated; no offense.

    The wire was cut by 3 divers, 750 meters from the coast.
    They have been arrested but no news, as to why they did the deed, has been released.

    The issue will be dealt with within a further 10 hours maximum. Egypt is covering all costs and repairs.

    Source: http://news.egypt.com/english/permalink/177260.html


  • Muneeb
    Mar 28, 2013 - 3:37PM

    Internet is still dead slow. The issue of fault in Egypt is separate from the fault that occur in the arabian sea.It should be clarified in the news to eliminate confusion.
    Pakistan should establish more cable connections with the under sea cables to avoid such situations in future.


  • LoLington
    Mar 28, 2013 - 5:39PM

    @ Muneeb

    You are incorrect my friend. It is the same issue.
    Check out this Link: http://dawn.com/2013/03/28/cable-damage-hits-internet-service/

    Also check out PTCLcares at twitter.

    There are plenty more links on the internet which suggest that the line has been damaged near Egypt and will be repaired in not more than 2 days as shown in 2007-8 incidences.

    Fingers crossed it gets corrected before sundown PST.


  • haris
    Mar 28, 2013 - 8:28PM

    Since the past two days internet has been really slow, you cant even run broadband speed test on speed.net, forget streaming online content. It should be fixed by now anyway..


  • Adeel
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:18PM

    well on my side my browsing is fine, but i play an online game for which i have to connect from a EU server which is giving very high latency also my download speed is not appropriate since past few days, as for ptcl helpline they have been constantly saying about the damage cable in some arabian sea, so i think the news is correct.


  • JJ
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:38PM

    Paksitan needs to invest in additional international backbone links.


  • Random
    Mar 28, 2013 - 10:44PM

    i am from india and i am facing problem with internet. Few websites open normally and few doesnt open at all. So this problem is definitely not solved yet. Asia is full of devolving countries they should collectively invest more in backbone of internet. Not to mention many asian IPS provide crappy bandwidth as compared to rest of world. That will also increase bandwidth.


  • qubee user
    Mar 29, 2013 - 1:14AM

    I am a qubee user and yesterday the net was down completely than it revived up with slow speed’s still the speeds slow but better than yesterday…

    any time frame for solution of isssue???


  • Mustafa
    Mar 29, 2013 - 6:01AM

    Give the guy a break. It’s a well researched article. How many of you knew that Pakistan had 4 submarine fiber optic cables providing backhaul access (SeaMeWe3, 4, IMeWe, TW1)? How many of you knew knew about IMeWe going down a couple of weeks ago? How many of you knew about ISPAK?

    If headlines is all you need, go read Google reader. Oh I’m sorry, that was just pulled.


  • Erum
    Mar 29, 2013 - 10:38AM

    That is a sad news to have Submarine cable fault on wider area and this is causing slow net speed for time.But good thing is we haven’t disconnected wholly by internet as by backup alternatives, PTCL is giving internet capacity to its users.Lets hop that it will get fixed as soon.


  • Sujan
    Mar 29, 2013 - 6:56PM

    Having slow internet speed in my home from some days…Recommend

  • Sujan
    Mar 29, 2013 - 7:07PM

    Having slow internet connection in my home from some days…


  • LoLington
    Mar 30, 2013 - 11:34AM

    Anyone aware of any ETR?


  • Adnan Khan
    Mar 31, 2013 - 3:19PM

    If you read some articles regarding the history of these underwater cable cuts, you’ll come to know that it’s almost always these people near Egypt, where it’s either “sabotage”, or large ships, dragging their anchors along the sea bed, playing havoc with the cable that’s been buried under the sea bed floor with robotic cable laying machines. Even then, they find ways to cut it to shreds. Aafreen!
    Do you ever hear about internet cables being disrupted in the Black Sea ?. Atlantic or Pacific oceans ?. No. Despite the density of oceanic traffic, violent storms, cold temperatures, their average Joe continue to enjoy his 130MB connection without fail.
    It’s always the Middle-East, Africa or now India. Couple of cables and more than a handful of people, bent on sabotaging themselves.

  • aizaz
    Apr 4, 2013 - 5:04PM

    still facing the problem of slow internet speed. cant watch online contents. its really disgusting that nothing done yet. cables should be repaired no time, so that people starts enjoying the same speed as before. i am really sick of this slow speed. does anybody know the proper time that when these cable will be repaired?


  • shahsaab
    Apr 7, 2013 - 3:10AM

    yes how many days have to be done repairing .


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