With each passing day, another undersea cable serving the Middle East is severed. At least that’s the way things are going right now! Slashdot reported earlier today on the fifth incident, originally suggesting that it resulted in all of Iran going offline. They later backtracked as it became clear that Iran was still on the grid.
Not surprisingly, there is a Wikipedia entry up with information on the 2008 submarine cable disruption. It includes a timeline with details about which cables were damaged. In case you’re wondering, there’s a list of international submarine communications cables at Wikipedia too.
The cable known as SEA-ME-WE 4 has been affected the most, which is significant as it provides the primary connection between Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia. Combined with the FLAG cable cut, the BBC has pointed out that only the older SEA-ME-WE 3 is currently connecting Europe and the Middle East, with capacity reduced by about 75%. This cable has experienced a couple disruptions of its own in the past. The first was in July of 2005, which mainly affected Pakistan. The second was back in December of 2006, the result of an earthquake known as Hengchun which occurred off the coast of Taiwan. Perhaps there are more that I haven’t found yet. Heck, portions of the cable have even been stolen and sold!
In my post yesterday, I expressed hope that the recent incidents would result in some action to prevent the situation from getting worse. The more I read about undersea cables however, the clearer it becomes that these events are certainly nothing new. It seems as though cable disruptions aren’t as uncommon as one might think.
Certainly the fact that five cables have been cut in less than two weeks should raise some eyebrows, however.
Here are some additional resources:
- DailyTech summary of the recent cable incidents
- History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy – Submarine cable route maps and Cable timeline: 1850-2008
- Engadget story from April 2007 about plans for a new undersea cable to link Asia and America
- Engadget story from September 2007 about rumors that Google was going to build an undersea cable across the Pacific