Mediterranean Cable Break

Early this morning local time, two cable systems north of Alexandria, Egypt were severed, greatly impacting both Internet and voice traffic to the region. The broken cables are operated by Flag Telecom and SEA-ME-WEA 4, and if past undersea cable cuts are any measure, repair time will be measured in weeks, not days. This is a preliminary report on the countries most impacted by this failure, as seen from the perspective of Internet routing.

Most Impacted Countries

As you can see from the above map, there are several cable systems that connect Europe, the Middle East and Asia, via the Suez Canal. The countries highlighted in red are those whose Internet connectivity is being disrupted the most by this event. At Renesys, we geo-locate all routed networks and observe their reachability from over 250 locations around the globe. In the case of disasters like this, we will suddenly see a large percentage and/or a large number of country-specific networks disappear from the Internet. As the following charts show, Egypt and Pakistan lost the highest percentage of their networks, while India lost the least. However, India had the third highest total number of networks disappear. Looking at the cable map, it is not surprising that the Indian subcontinent was impacted by events off the coast of Egypt. There are essentially two ways to get to this part of the world: via the Suez Canal or via Southeast Asia.

The next graph show the outages over time for the four countries who lost the most number of networks, namely, Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait and India. You can observe a sharp loss of connectivity for these countries at 04:30 UTC, followed by another event at 08:00 UTC.

Most Impacted Countries by Total Number of Networks

Our final graph shows the total number of networks lost for the region, excluding the Indian subcontinent, in order to more clearly illustrate the timing of these events. Notice that there are two long term events starting at 04:30 UTC and 08:00 UTC, presumably the two cable breaks. Then there are shorter lived events at around 06:00 UTC and 13:00 UTC, which may reflect measures taken in an attempt to route around the problem.

Total Number of Outaged Regional Networks

Stay tuned to this blog for more information as we continue our analysis.


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this is not a fully correct picture, It has not shown Bangladesh outage. Bangladesh is also suffering badly.

Dumb question maybe, but what is ht possibility for Egypt and the rest to route its traffic via India, Singapore, USA to Europe or south around South Africa?

India and Africa and South America seem to be the bottleneck in routing traffic around the world at the moment

You can cross the north Pacific and North Atlantic on multiple routes. But you can't reach India, Middle East, Africa and South America on multiple routes.

(BTW Nice picture of the TYCO Responder Cable ship on my blog)

I don't think this is correct. You most certainly can reach India via multiple routes. In particular, India has routes heading both East and West. This is why the Taiwan quakes ( )in late 2006 were a problem for India—it got most of its connectivity heading East. Now we find that it currently gets a decent-sized chunk heading West, too.

Even if it were possible for Egypt and others to route all their European-bound traffic heading East through India, Singapore, then Japan, the US, then Europe, that route would be horrendous. It would have, at a minimum, with no congestion, you're looking at many hundreds of milliseconds of latency (possibly as much as a second if you take sub-optimal paths and encounter any congestion anywhere, which you almost certainly would by shoving all that traffic in a direction it's not used to travelling).

More importantly, it would also be hideously expensive. Even at the very high rates that people already pay for Internet transit in the Middle East, it would not be possible for carriers to pay for all of the undersea cable (three oceans need to be crossed at a minimum) and all of the other capacity used without significantly raising prices. probably by a factor of 10 or so. It's not clear the market needs Skype to work that badly. :-)

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