Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pakistan cut off from world by under-sea cable fault

Pakistan's Internet and cell phone links with the rest of the world were severed Tuesday by a fault in a key submarine cable that engineers said could take two weeks to repair. Millions of people were affected by the breakdown in the main fibre-optic link beneath the Arabian Sea 35 kilometers south of Karachi, which was detected late Monday, officials and Internet service providers said. The complex repair work may require a complete shut down, potentially causing disruption in India, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Oman, which are also linked to the damaged cable, officials said. "This is a highly sophisticated operation and only specialised companies can undertake such a delicate task under the sea," Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) chief engineer Shahid Ahmed said. "Pakistan has no such ability." The cable is owned by a consortium of 92 countries with Singtel of Singapore acting as its operating agents. "We are holding a multilateral conference to fix the problem and asked Singtel to arrange for the rectification of the fault," Ahmed said. He said Singtel has appointed E-Marine, a UAE-based company, to fix the fault. They had dispatched a ship which may take 18 to 24 hours to reach the site, he added.


Talha Masood said...

It is both interesting and seemingly shocking at the same time that we do not have redundant submarine cables for better fault tolerance. Outage like this can cause a bad name to companies such as call centers whose business solely relies on fast and reliable 24*7 internet connectivity.


Shaiq Bashir said...

I agree with Mr. Talha! Pakistan should possess this ability of dealing with these type of faults. Now what are we watching that Pakistan is just sitting and waiting for others in order to connect itself. The government should take notice of it.

Jumper said...

I fail to understand why everyone is so "shocked" and surprised at this? For those still under any doubts: the "internet industry" in this country is as seriously taken by those running it as a Montessory teacher takes its kids. Please grow up, people. Actually no, if you were grown ups, you wouldn't be so affected with it, because all internet "service providers" think they're just providing entertainment to sex-starved teenagers on chat and MSN (I work for one of such "provider").

Anonymous said...

Pakistan Internet link repairs to take three days
Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:13 AM BST
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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's data and Internet links with the outside world will be affected until at least the weekend as repairs are carried out on a faulty undersea fibre-optic cable, telecommunications officials said on Wednesday.

The cable developed a fault late on Monday, cutting the country's international data links, including the Internet, and causing chaos for businesses across the country. Satellite back-up systems were brought on-stream on Wednesday, restoring some Internet access.

"Data connectivity will not be as fast as it normally is but we've provided satellite back-up," said Mashkoor Hussain, vice president of operations at Pakistan Telecommunication (PTCA.KA: Quote, Profile, Research), which operates the data link. Telephone links had not been affected, he said.

"Two satellite back-up systems have been provided from 9 a.m. (0400 GMT) to ensure that banks and other businesses like airline ticketing can be provided with Internet data facilities as normal as possible," he said.

Hussain said an attempt to repair the cable -- Pakistan's sole international cable Internet link -- early on Wednesday had failed.

A repair ship from the company that laid the cable was due to set off from Dubai on Wednesday afternoon and it should reach the site, about 50 km off the coast, on Thursday afternoon. Repair work was then expected to take 48 hours, he said.

"The repair work is major, the cable will have to be taken out and repaired," another PTCL official said.

Hussain said the repairs would not have an impact on neighbouring countries, including India, which are also linked up to the faulty cable. Those countries had back-up cables, he said.

One Internet service provider said PTCL had provided them with some bandwidth but it far from sufficient and customers were complaining it was almost useless.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Zahid N. Sindhu said...

I remember reading something in Spider a long time ago about how something like this will happen if PTA does not take adequate steps to ensure that the country has a reliable backup solution.

Needless to say, the satellite backup was and still is less than adequate. I think we either need the PTA to wake up and make sure something like this does not happen again or lobby GoP to come up with laws which would allow independent procurement of up and downlinks from alternate sources.

Afterall, they did recently allow textile units to produce their own electricity without the need of an NOC from the KESC/WAPDA. *grin*

Abbas Halai said...

look for updates at this site.

Kashif said...

Actually the existing cable got old so chances of wear and tear have increased. But now PTCL is working on number of initiatives like SMW4, link with india etc.

Salman Siddiqui said...

In today's dawn:
"Internet restoration may take a week
ISLAMABAD, June 30: Restoration of the internet system in the country could take at least another week as the ship arranged by the SEA-ME-WE-3 consortium had not yet reached the fault site, official sources told Dawn here on Thursday.

They said it was impossible to put the Internet system on a normal track within two or three days as the ship, which had sailed from Dubai, would take another two to three days to reach the site. It could take more than a week for any apparent improvement in Pakistan’s Internet system, which has been down since Friday.

Meanwhile, the management of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) claimed in an official statement that it was providing enhanced satellite-based Internet provider (IP) connectivity to corporate customers, including banks, airline ticketing system, call centres and other financial services.

The statement said the PTCL had added 136MB (2,000 circuits) for voice and 1,500 circuits for data and call centres on satellite in addition to 8,475 circuits, to overcome the problem.

The PTCL officials said seven call centres in Lahore with 6MB, six centres in Karachi with 7MB and five in Islamabad with 9MB had been provided with full capacity on priority basis.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Air Blue had been provided with full connectivity, while other airlines were being approached for their requirements, the statement maintained.

It said some of the leading banks had also been given the facility while others were being approached to fulfil their requirements.

Many of the software companies and TV channels have been provided with full connectivity.

The company said the country’s three stock exchanges were already connected.

Long Distance International (LDI) operators had been offered traffic carriage alternative for voice on receipt of consent and the offered arrangement were activated, the statement said.

It said the company was in close liaison with the SEA-ME-WE-3 consortium. All these back-up satellite services were being provided for free to the customers.

It said keeping in view the vulnerability of the international communication, the company had already invested Rs2.4 billion to arrange alternate connectivity through SEA-ME-WE-4, which would be available from October this year."

Salman Siddiqui said...

Latest DAWN report: "Bad weather delays repair ship’s arrival: Internet disruption
ISLAMABAD, July 1: Bad weather has delayed for another 24 hours arrival of a ship to Karachi from Dubai to repair the faulty undersea optic fibre cable, Pakistan’s sole Internet link with the rest of the world, excepting satellite links recently acquired by the PTCL, according to sources.

Sources told Dawn the ratio of extensive damage to the cable was between 40 and 50 per cent and it could take days, not hours, to detect and remove the faults.

They said Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL) staff was still in the dark about reasons behind the fault, which could be confirmed only by technicians arriving in the ship because they belonged to the company which had laid the cable.

They said the PTCL officials’ attributing the fault to power supply suspension to the international gateway cable was merely a guess.

A PTCL official, who was present at SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine when the fault appeared, said it was a big damage which had crippled the Internet system of the entire country, besides slightly affecting the mobile phone service.

When contacted, PTCL spokesman Ansar Bhatti confirmed the delay in the arrival of the ship. He said the ship was not covered because it carried equipment and that was why it could not sail during rain or bad whether.

Mr Bhatti said he did know about exact location where the ship had stopped, but expressed the hope that it would arrive on Saturday evening. The ship was earlier scheduled to reach Karachi on Friday, he added.

He said the country’s internet system had witnessed some improvement after it was linked to satellite.

When asked whether the government had contacted India for connecting its system with that of the neighbouring country’s, he said talks at ministerial or secretary level were yet to begin between the countries who were in contact at lower level.

He said immediate laying of another submarine optic fibre cable, SEA-ME-WE-4, was a priority since it would provide an alternative system to the existing SEA-ME-WE-3 line"

Kaala-American said...

I am so disgusted with this blog! Isn't this supposed to be Pakistan's internet Mag's Blog?? Why is it not keeping up2date with news & analysis on the black-out instead of posting stupid lazy news rips as comments??? Why is the big huge battalion of "CONTIBUTORS" sitting on their behinds what's the point of having so many? They are only contributing and plugging their respective websites and blogss!!! A couple of intelligent people are more important than a big sleeping army!!



Zunaira said...

KA, this isn't a blog maintained by SPIDER or its staff. Hope you can recover from your disappointment. Ive just changed the title of the blog so no more confusion remains with random visitors.

Kaala-American said...

Zunaira, I am not a "random visitor" I clicked the following link on www.spider.tm , so forgive me if I don't recover from disappointment and remain under more confusion
This is the URL I clicked:
[it is on the main page of spider.tm saying Spider Blog]
Thank you for changing the Title.

S H A M I said...

From: ahtasham khan @hotmail.com
Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005 21:03:54 +0500
Dear Officer,
I have been a permanent UFONE user but i just left it due to its
monopolistic behaviour. Let me again informe you that Pressing "Y" is
now out of reach by many Ufone users and simply they are leaving
because now one can understand that it is a hidden charge by Ufone.
Telenor, Mobilink, Warid, they are more experienced in the field of
GSM telephony. Why they didnt implemented this stupid " Y " policy?
are they not clever as you are? LOL. When ever i contacted to 333
person he/she simply said that we are answerless for your question
please contact our higher authorities via web based Email service (
complaints section ). I simplay want to say that you are just making
Money by putting this monopolistic policy " Y". I can challenge you
that this policy is 100 % flop, the department who done this is non
technical, the person @ 333 said me that it is good for those who are
fed-up by receiving unwanted messages ( Bad words ).
Now here are the following things that you should know about :
1. Suppose a person whose name is Hamza. He use to abuse me thorugh
Web 2 Sms because it is free of cost and i will not be able to trace
out his mobile number. According to new Ufone's policy if i,ll agree
to receive his message i,ll simply do " Y " and it will cost me 1.75
Rs ( Regular ) for 5 messages again i would have to press " Y " for
getting more messages and more 1.75 Rs will be charged from my
account. Alas ! i can help you in this matter but let me tell you. I
am addicted to block the Hamza's Messages not my father, mother ,
sister and Hamza knows the names of all of my family members, cousins,
girl friends etc.. You know he will simply change his Nick, some time
he will become my Sister Sana, my brother Anwar, my mother Mrs Najma,
my father Mr. Mushtaq, my girl friend Sadaf. What i,ll do who is
behind this message? I,ll simply press " Y " to get the message that
my MOM wants to chat with me but there the Stupid " Hamza" will appear
with his harsh message. what do you think about?
2. The second thing very interesting. Suppose your name is Kashif i
know you very closely. I want to say " Kashif ullu ka patha" by
Web2SMS service but there you have restricted me and you have the
option " Y" "NO" to receive but " hahahah " you know i,ll do that
before you decide to press " Y" or " No" ,i,ll simply put my nick "
Kashif_ullu_ka_patha" and there this message will appear "
Kashif_ullu_ka_patha" wants to chat with you ...........
3. Third thing that suppose i know that on the other side a person is
100% reliable for example my mother, father, sister, etc.. and i
pressed Y button. now i have given them my permission for the regular
charge 1.75 for next 5 messages. What is the gaurantee that i,ll get
the 5 messages because it is noted that the person is always get
logged out by Ufone WEB2sms service automatically or he/she may be
logged out automatically by service down , or any other reason.. which
always occurs i own myself never have experience for long 5 messages.
Every time he/she will connect to web2sms chat session a new request
will be appear @ my mobile and i,ll charge again 1.75 rs and its my
luck now how many messages i,m able to get this time because usualy it
takes a lot of time for replying via mobile than computer key board
and note it every body wants that in a single SMS he/she should send
breif and long messages rather then several short messages and to do
this it takes a lot of time to write a long message while the other
person who is @ Web2sms service gets disconnected and the person who
is sending a long message through mobile will get 1.75 rs charge by
ufone but his message will never be able to get by his friend who is
on Ufone Web 2 Sms chat session because he got disconnected and
therefore to get a message he needs to get again permission from Ufone
mobile user. Alas ! i can help you

These are the 3 main things that you people should understand and
please dont fuck us more i want my Ufone service back coz my
girlfriend has Ufone and now i m using telenor. PLease think that its
totely flop policy and people are giving up ufone. please if you can
think about this other wise i,ll request to my GF to simply leave the
fucking ( PTCL owned ) UFone and go for telenor or else...
i m contributor editor in Spider Mag ( Dawn group of news paper ) and
may be i,ll send a complete reference for the mobile section.
waiting for your positively reply
Khan Shami
Senior Motion |Graphics Designer
Post Amazers , 3 Talwar
Continental Trade Centre, Clifton
Karachi, Pakistan.