back to article Submarine cable cut torpedoes Middle East access

A submarine cable in the Mediterranean was cut earlier today, resulting in a dramatic slowdown in internet access for people in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and much of the Middle East. A spokesman for Flag Telecom, the owner of the severed cable, told the Reg: "It is a problem off the coast of Alexandria in Egypt. For some reason …

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Awww poor companies that offshored....

Don't you just feel for them? After all, all they wanted to do was dump expensive, mostly competent (ok, that can be argued with some of the banks that offshored customer service...) domestic staff for half-trained, working for nothing people in other countries to bump up the profit margin.

Yep, it's a real shame that it might affect them.

*snigger*

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Anonymous Coward

Ah well, irony?

Choose one of the three options:

1 - No contingency seems to be in place

2 - All eggs in one basket

3 - Now it has happened all are wiser

Type of scenario?

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Silver badge

Take that...

..Osama! Think you can use the infidels internet to plot your attacks.

Think again!

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Serves 'em right

we shouldn't be bloody outsourcing in the first place, and we cant read indian, or at least most of us can't so who really cares?

anyway, maybe i wont have to hear calls from idiots in india asking me if i want to outsource my it department there for awhile. it would be nice if someone dropped their anchors in the vicinity of wherever nigeria gets its internet from too.

hell take china and russia with them too.

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IT Angle

yup

yup, I'm in the middle east, the interweb was offline for a couple of hours this afternoon, and is currently slow and sluggish....well at least slower and sluggishier than usual...

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Go

Nice

Nice one !

Now I know why the number of annoying telemarketing calls have taken a massive nose dive from the usual 5 per day at the peak hour !

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ah!

We were told it was a snowstorm in Amman (yes, seriously!!!). Though, the snowstorm could have compounded the problem...

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Coat

What?

"Apart from being serious for the region, the cable break could also hit large UK and US enterprises which have offshored business processes and backoffice functions to companies in India, Pakistan or the Middle East."

I really would like to know how those outsourcing contracts were negotiated and if those geniuses considered situations like this...

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Support lines?

So all those support lines that are blatantly using VoIP to reduce costs are going to be even *less* intelligible? I can't understand what they're saying half the time as it is with all the compression they whack on the line...

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isn't the old pilots maxim

Please tell me that means all those annoying telesales calls from indian call centres wont get through

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Anonymous Coward

Mailbox

I'd noticed that the spam was lower than usual this week. Guess we know why now.

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Coat

Cut through red cables?

Never mind the red tape.

Sorry, coat/hat/door

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Pirate

the next war in the middle east?

what, no one has considered it an Israeli action as a prelude to a strike somewhere in the middle east? wars have started with such actions (WW-I)

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Anonymous Coward

Spam reduction?

Not likely - it all comes from hijacked boxes in the US and the far east.

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Duct Tape

Surely someone has a roll spare?

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Alert

dubai carrier 'Du' dead in the water yesterday

In Dubai there is a neat monopoly carve up between the two providers, both of which are basically government owned. 'Du' services the free zone, and you're stuck with them and their high costs (about 5 times similar business connections in UK). Yesterday about 11.15 am local time the internet in our office died.

It was completely dead until we left at 6pm. I checked from home around 7pm and had some service, but slow. It seemed to get faster later, but I am guessing that is just due to most demand being daytime.

Seems ok now (8.30am) but I am not hopeful it will stay this good once most people are at work. 'Du' seems to have been hit harder than any other provider in the region. Gotta wonder about their connectivity redundancy. These guys service 'Dubai Internet City' yet apparently a cable break thousands of miles away and they're belly up.

Lucky we still have the UK office too.

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Stop

Re. Serves 'em right

Well lets see... You are saying that it serves right a country of around a billion people that their internet connection is unavailable due to a cable cut because a miniscule number of employees of call centers and IT outsourcing companies based there are a problem to you. I guess it does not matter that IT is not the only business in India.

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Coat

Wow where to start.

So much to comment back on so little room. . .ahh screw it

RE: Awww poor companies that offshored.... & isn't the old pilots maxim & Support lines? & Serves 'em right & all those who made this possible who I forgot to mention, God, Anchors and the rest of you, yeah you know who you are :)

Heh kinda funny actually seeing as tech support for an old company I worked for had a "help desk" stationed in India with roughly 30k employees and the best response I got out of them time after time (mind you asking them to repeat themselves as I couldnt understand them) was to be screamed at and have the phone slammed down on me. Hope the people still there finally have some peace.

RE: Re. Serves 'em right

Hold on now. Lets do some math here (mind you numbers are not what im looking for unless its dollar signs). Dell *cha-ching* M$ *cha-ching* HP *need I do it again?* to name a few which is the main ones people think about when you say Indian tech support. Your telling me and all of us that there are more legimate businesses there that we dont know about? Oh do tell. I can name a few for you, farming, textiles, those cheap lead coated toys with sharp objects for children (ok cheap shot as thats China but eh you get the idea) how many times do you call tech support for clothing? It may not be the only business there but its the one that matters to 90% of us (the other 10% are the true IT pros who live in the pub :) ) Sorry but every time I have had to call for tech support or to activate WinXP I get them. Not saying they are bad people, they are actually really nice and try hard, but when you call and tell them you have tried this that and the other thing to make their job easier and so on they refuse to break from the cue card and then half the time I need them to repeat themselves as I didnt understand them through the heavy accent. But I guess call centers for IT there with 300k employees dont matter in the long run of things.

On a side note paying my energy bill this month should be fun as I usually call it in. I wonder if I play the oblivious card and cant get through will they penalize me if Im late :P

The coat with the piece of cable in the pocket please

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@ Ashwin Shah

Well said Ashwin. There will unfortunately always be small minded individuals who reject change. Mike Crawshaw et al probably complain about their computer users not liking change, yet they are guilty of the same crime when they reject changes in the business model. It doesn't help that they add an unhealthy dose of xenophobia.

Globalisation is inevitable and will benefit us all. Of course it will cause some problems, as does any change, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

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Black Helicopters

Government Conspiracy

Only last week did several high profile British ministers promise to rid the internet of terrorist material and communications.

One week later and they succeeded. That must be the fastest ever government project! Probavbly came in under budget too!

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Huh?

Hmm... I didn't notice.. My ADSL is running fine and the uTorrent speed logs don't show any significant loss of bandwidth. Not too sure, but I think some of India's Net uplinks go to Singapore.

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Happy

Re. Serves 'em right

...because I've never ever received crappy telemarketing calls from someone based in the UK, or dealt with inept customer support / service desks based in the UK.

Had a wonderful call with my bank's customer service desk at 10pm the other night where the girl (sounded as though she was UK based) said (in a coarse Goerdie accent) "Uhh, I'll be honest sir, I'm not really sure how to resolve that, and we don't have any supervisors to help us at this time at night, could you possibly call back tomorrow?"

There are some truly awful offshored call centres, but this is generally where the business has chosen a shit partner to get extra cost savings, only to realise that (because they're paying peanuts), they're not getting people who speak the Queen's English. Those companies that have bothered to work to identify a good solid partner have actually turned out OK. National Rail Enquiries seems to do alright, despite having to deal with obscure train station names & spellings that the previous UK staff seemed to struggle with.

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Joke

Skip over this comment

What does a network engineer do when he gets stranded in the desert?

Buries a length of cable in the sand and then hitches a ride with the backhoe driver.

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Happy

Spam Levels Drop for First Time in Ages

Keep a watch on global spam records today - it's bound to be the largest drop in global spam transmission since the Chinese got cut off.

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Dead Vulture

@Ashwin

'miniscule number of employees of call centers and IT outsourcing companies based there are a problem to you'

Hardly miniscule. Nearly all of our companies are outsourcing to india, banks, credit cards, I.T., software development, phone companies, rail companies, pharmacuticals. Hundreds of thousands of OUR skilled jobs are being given to poorly educated, barely able to speak the language of the people they are supposed to be helping, unable to move away from the script they have been given and it annoys the hell out of us. So while your economy grows, ours loses millions of pounds in taxes which would have been paid by the workers employed HERE, commerce suffers as fewer people have money to spend making us reliant on cheap shit from india and china and millions more is lost in benefits to pay for the newly unemployed and so our economy begins to fail. All for the 'globalisation' cause which is nothing more than a poorly veiled excuse for companies to maximise profits while screwing employees so the fat cats can earn even more in bonuses. As you say, India has a billion people living there - why do you need to take in support jobs from abroad, haven't you got enough customers in your own country?

@Dr Who,

Globilistation benefits only the very rich. What do you think will happen when our economy has crumbled and our workers have to work for crap salaries while indias booms and they want more money and begin to understand what unions do? All those jobs will be moved away to somewhere cheaper, it might be malaysia next time or even back here as by then we will all work for whatever we can get.

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Bronze badge

So that's how the telephone call to India is affordable.

I've had to make calls to Call Centres in India, and Glasgow.

The accent can be a problem for both.

Calls to India can have atrocious line quality, making it difficult to do things like read out account number, and check the read-back. I'm talking major UK insurance company, here.

And reporting the problem is difficult: you get emails asking for personal details, from addresses not obviously linked to the insurance company.

I would be totally unsurprised to learn that the British company bought a package, connections and call-centre, and failed to specify adequate line-quality and fault-tolerance. I wonder just how much of the cost saving depends on ultra-cheap telecom links, not from cheap labour.

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RE: the next war in the middle east?

"what, no one has considered it an Israeli action as a prelude to a strike somewhere in the middle east? wars have started with such actions (WW-I)"

@paul: You should of course bare in mind that the story force fed every kid in england re gavriello princip vs. arch duke franz ferdinand is complete balls. WWI was started because of the german attempt to build a rail road to iraq to get the oil after watching the british change their fuel source for ships from coal to diesel.

... This story of the start of WWI is somewhat less publicised as it is the same war today it was almost a hundred years ago, if you don't believe me, listen to Rob Newman previously of the mary whitehouse experience, he does a great stage show about it and when you check the facts he mentions you'll find he is completely right! So some random events occuring in the former Yugoslavia are completely irrelevant and are no "trigger" for war as has been taught in british schools all too long.

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Anonymous Coward

And only one day after MI5 complain they can't intercept IP

Gosh, the day after MI5 complain that they can't intercept internet traffic ("VOIP and the web baffle Brit spook wiretappers"), TWO major backbones to the Middle East and Pakistan both go down together for some convenient one-week downtime.

What a co-incidence!

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Flame

Crikey

This comments list seems to be swamped by a load of protectionist semi-racists.

I expect that you all used to buy British made textiles until those sneaky Chinese put our fine mills out of action. Hmm. Maybe globalisation does benefit some ordinary folk after all - jeans for a fiver at Tescos.

India's different though. Outsourcing IT jobs. That affects me directly. Must be bad. Solidarity bruvvers !

(awaiting inevitable comment from people who still do only buy UK made pants, honest).

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Paris Hilton

'appen

"Had a wonderful call with my bank's customer service desk at 10pm the other night where the girl (sounded as though she was UK based) said (in a coarse Goerdie accent) etc"

<sarcasm>Because of course "Goerdies" are notoriously stupid and ill-bred.</sarcasm>

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Anonymous Coward

Ahh

Wrap me up in my union jack and send them stinking ----s back! O wait - what - this isn't a BNP rally? Could of fooled me.

Racist protectionism at its best is on fine display here.

I'd get my coat but some ....... stole it! Come my white brothers lets don our black boots and jeans, it's time to march!

It's not really a joke the sentiments about outsourcing in this comment section discusts me.

Superhero.

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Anonymous Coward

I hope

I hope it multiplies every telemarketer's cost per call by a factor of 1000.

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@Karl Lattimer

The assassination of the Austro-Hungarian princip wasn't the reason to go to war, you are right about that - but it was the excuse to declare war.

There were countless other reasons why the war was started - the arm race started by the british, and who knows how many more. But the Austro-Hungarians needed an official reason to declare war, according to the rules.

So the assassination was used as a pretext to declare war on Serbia (not Yugoslavia, that was created much later, btw), Serbia being allied with the western powers - i can't remember if it was directly allied with the brits, or just with the frenchies that were allied with the brits...

Anyway, that was the story.

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Pirate

RE: the next war in the middle east?

Karl;

no doubt you are correct, the published reasons may be less than 100% accurate. BTW: "The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman gives an apparently unbiased account of the many things that lead up to WW-I, but, i digress. what i was referring to was not the cause of the war, but of the practice of cutting the undersea cables serving Germany so as to force them to use other means for their long haul communications. radio, which could be intercepted, or commercial cable service, of which copies could be obtained by leaning on the cable companies. see also "The Zimmermann Telegram", also by BT.

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Anonymous Coward

As Captain Blackadder said

As Captain Blackadder said,

"The war started becouse it was simply too much effort not to have a war."

Britain was allied with France and Russia at the time...

Something along the lines of "The idea was that you would have two massive superpowers, so large that neither side would want to have a war, there was only one problem with the plan."

"What was that?"

"It was bollocks."

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Dear Drum D

Maybe those offshore companies will need to take some of their slave labor profit and kick in and fix the problem?

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Dead Vulture

@Anonymous Coward

Racism not so much, but constant disgust with the companies over there, if you received calls every day from random indian companies asking you to buy software and outsource your schools curriculum writing over there you would be pissed too. And no, have you ever even been there? most common people in the agriculture and textiles business do not have internet access and thus it doesn't affect them at all. sure the cities do and they are increduibly crowded, but the otherhalf of the population live in outer low technology settlements and dont have much of anything, especially space.

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Anonymous Coward

benefit us all?

"Globalisation is inevitable and will benefit us all."

Maybe. Some of us see 'Globalisation' as an aberrent artifact of artificially depressed fossil fuel prices. But globalisation means many things. A big believer in the so-called 'global village' me, I welcome the concept we are realizing of inexpensive world wide communiction, and the promises implied therein. otoh, when folks are realising head over heels profits by selling nails in depressed rust belt regions that have been shipped halfway around the globe, something is very wrong.

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@ Dr Who

"Mike Crawshaw et al probably complain about their computer users not liking change, yet they are guilty of the same crime when they reject changes in the business model. It doesn't help that they add an unhealthy dose of xenophobia."

Erm.... I'm Canadian, my Mom is English, my gf is Indian, one of my best friends is Pakistani.... so much for Xenophobia.

I like change. Change keeps me interested because it forces new ways to do things, and prevents stagnation. I do, however, despise badly-thought out change that is purely for the sake of itself, to keep various project managers in employment and increase profit for a company at the cost of service.

So there. Nah.

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RE: "Serves 'em right" et al.

I'm not sure how making it harder for people in the UK to report problems with their broadband, etc. serves anyone right? I doubt the companies who use off-shore call centres to save money give a toss if you can't get through -- how exactly does it affect them adversely if their customers can't contact them to complain?

Please, people, think these things through logically.

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Happy

Block cold calls ?

Try registering your phone with a cold call blocking service. I did and now the laydeez love me. Or something.

Anyway, that would seem to be the logical thing to do, if you're plagued by cold calls. Works for me.

Of course you could not bother, and continue to rage against furriners in call centres. Whatever floats your boat.

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Just Flag?

Anyone know if this is just Flag's cable or also Sea-We-Me 3 or 4 too? The Sea-We-Me's carry more than Flag IIRC down to India.

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Stop

Racism and outsourcing

Hmmm... racism in any form is bad, but there *IS* a legitimate argument around outsourcing very large sectors of any business abroad, which does have a significant knock on effect on the "home" country's economy. This is not racism, unfortunately it is often jumped on by racist elements and use as some sort of rallying call to other illiterate simpletons that can barely spell economics let alone understand them...

Another side point of the telecomms (in particular, there are many others) industry outsourcing is the exponential increase in telesales calls as these offshore firms are not covered by the telephone preference service or any of the UK regulation surrounding unsolicited sales/marketing calls...

In favour of the Indian call centres, I worked for BT and had more problems with the internal helpdesks based in Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff, thanks to very thick accents. and no, this isn't any sort of comment on intelligence (except perhaps that of the executives who decide all these ridiculous policies) simply communication difficulties presented by language barriers...

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Go

Telephone Preference Service

For all of you in the UK annoyed by cold calls, register your number with the Telephone Preference Service (http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/). It does actually work! Since I registered, I have gone from 3-4 cold calls a day to once every few months. And when I get one, I tell the caller that I am on the service and that they should not have called me. Most of the time, they apologise and I never hear from them again.

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Anonymous Coward

So good that UK is immune from any accidents

Yes, serves them right indeed.. Shoudn't have put all eggs in the same basket.. they should have kept all the eggs in UK.

(or at least some largely anglo saxon nation whose call centres and outsourced employees escape our wrath and ridicule)

In the UK, we would never have suffered a loss of Bandwidth. We don't have gale force winds threatening telecom towers. We have no threat of weather, fire, floods, strikes, terrorism or the like.

Yorkshire, where all these call centers originally were, has people with accents are so much more correctly spoken english than anyone else's.

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Happy

Re: So good that UK is immune from any accidents

"Yorkshire, where all these call centers originally were, has people with accents are so much more correctly spoken english than anyone else's."

Well, this was based on peoples' reactions to various UK accents in the late 80's, where the Yorkshire (specifically Leeds) accent was regarded as friendly, professional, trustworthy etc. Which is why a lot of the pioneering telephone-based companies etc started there - like First Direct, back in the days when anything but branch service was pretty-much unheard of. They did their research, and that was what came out from asking potential customers. Unfortunately, they didn't take into account that a lot of the people who would wind up working at call centres in Leeds were students who didn't come from Yorkshire.... so much for that plan.

(No, I'm not from Leeds! But I did work at First Direct and another Leeds-based call centre for a bit right after leaving school)

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He's Right!

"Well lets see... You are saying that it serves right a country of around a billion people that their internet connection is unavailable due to a cable cut because a miniscule number of employees of call centers and IT outsourcing companies based there are a problem to you. I guess it does not matter that IT is not the only business in India."

I have seen a sharp decline in the number of magic carpets, woven baskets holding spitting cobras, and that crazy Thriller video can't be accessed. The local quick-e-mart employees are also on edge, don't know if it related to their network issues or the local skateboarding clan creating a nuisance in their parking lot.

I'll get back to all of you.

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Wow.

This article certainly has smoked out the small-minded among us. And Paul Bell - you definitely took it to the next level. All I can say to your accusation is this: If Israel actually wanted to start a war with everybody in the middle east, they'd already be done.

Shalom.

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@Danny, @James O'Brien et al

I don't blame you for getting mad about all this outsourcing business. I would too if my job was outsourced as well. But you fail to see that the people (someone here correctly called them slave labour) working in the outsourcing industry are not the problem here. If anyone is to blame it is the organisations in your country who actively outsource your jobs for fat profits. Mike Crawshaw correctly targets his ire at these organisations.

Secondly the fact that jobs in your particular industry are being outsourced has not wiped out all employment in the UK. There are plenty of other industries in the UK which are exporting in huge numbers to countries like India. I am sure these exports have generated jobs which would have not existed earlier. It stands to reason that these exporters will also get hit by this cable break in some way or the other.

I could wax eloquent about the many industries which exist in India and are much more productive than the IT/BPO industry but I am sure you can easily google that information.

You could also go to

http://www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1017170902405

pay close attention to the section INDIA-UK: PARTNERS IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY

BTW Bad at the Queen's English != uneducated

And on a lighter note, yes we get deluged with calls from telemarketers here in India as well. But we get it worse than you do since we are just around the corner. You can run, but you cant hide....

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£5.00 jeans

"Maybe globalisation does benefit some ordinary folk after all - jeans for a fiver at Tescos"

You wear them ?

Sad !

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