Internet Outages Across the Middle East

Thanks to Ann Higgins for the update on the Internet outages in the Middle East (Damaged undersea cable causes Internet outages across Middle East).

Apparently two undersea cables in the Mediterranean were damaged yesterday. Emergency teams are trying to find alternative routes for traffic – including satellite. It’s is expected to day takes to repair the situation. Right now, TeleGeography, a U.S. research group that tracks submarine cables around the world, estimated that the severed lines account for 75 percent of the capacity connecting Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries to Europe.

At this point no one knows what happened. Apparently cables get cut like this pretty frequently, but this is the first time that two have been cut and that has obviously upped the ante. The cables were about a half a mile apart from each other and somewhere between Alexandria, Egypt, and Palermo, Italy.

I see that Egypt asked folks today to stop downloading movies and MP3s as they continue to work on the problem. I’ll post the quotation from the article below:

“Two of our cables are affected; everyone will go onto a third cable,” ministry spokesman Mohammed Taymur told AFP. “But that will not be enough bandwidth. The cable will be overloaded and no one will be able to get access” unless people honour the ministry request.

“People should know how to use the Internet because people who download music and films are going to affect businesses who have more important things to do,” he said.

It struck me because for some people downloading video and MP3s is there business!

Minnesota is a long way from Egypt – but we faced a similar problem last summer when the 35W Bridge collapsed. As I recall last summer we were able to get over this much smaller problem by opening up the wireless access in Minneapolis. It sounds as if in Egypt they’re trying their own version of that by going satellite.

I think it helps second Christopher Mitchell’s point in his latest publication Demystifying Wireless and Fiber-Optic Options, that fiber and wireless are not mutually exclusive – redundancy is a good reason to consider both.
I just can’t imagine going a few days without broadband.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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