Thursday, January 31, 2008

Internet outages hit Asia and Middle East

Internet outages across North Africa, the Middle East and Asia have brought markets and businesses to a halt. Many companies are reliant on the World Wide Web and little business can be done without it. One major telecommunications provider blamed the outage, which started Wednesday, on a major undersea cable failure in the Mediterranean. India's Internet bandwidth was reduced by half forcing industry to reroute traffic to satellites and other cables through Asia. Reports say that Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain are also experiencing severe problems. But some countries were spared the chaos. Israel, Lebanon and Iraq were still able to maintain connection as many Middle East governments have backup satellite systems in case of cable failure. There are conflicting reports over what caused the failure and it is unclear when services will be restored [CNN / BBC]. It is not the first time that internet outages have been disrupted by undersea cable problems. In 2001 China was cut off for weeks after cable connections were cut. Two years later in 2003 cable problems between the US and Britain created widespread disruption to the internet [Zdnet] and in 2006 an earthquake severed cables in Asia [tvnewswatch].

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