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 …


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  1. Mike Crawshaw

    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.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  3. Steve Evans

    Take that...

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

    Think again!

  4. Silentmaster101
    Thumb Up

    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.

  5. theotherone
    IT Angle


    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...

  6. heystoopid


    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 !

  7. Eleanor Rigby


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

  8. Anonymous Coward


    "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...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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...

  10. Pete

    isn't the old pilots maxim

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

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


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

  12. Stuart Barnett

    Cut through red cables?

    Never mind the red tape.

    Sorry, coat/hat/door

  13. paul bell

    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)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spam reduction?

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

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Duct Tape

    Surely someone has a roll spare?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  17. Ashwin Shah

    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.

  18. James O'Brien

    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

  19. Dr Who
    Thumb Up

    @ 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.

  20. Chris Morrison
    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!

  21. Aditya Krishnan
    Thumb Up


    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.

  22. mark

    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.

  23. Feargal Reilly

    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.

  24. Mike Peachey

    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.

  25. Danny
    Dead Vulture


    '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.

  26. Dave Bell

    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.

  27. Karl Lattimer

    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.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  29. Anonymous Coward


    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).

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "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>

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.


  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope

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

  33. Marius Poenar

    @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.

  34. paul bell

    RE: the next war in the middle east?


    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.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    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."

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Dear Drum D

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

  37. Silentmaster101
    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.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  39. Mike Crawshaw

    @ 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.

  40. Cameron Colley

    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.

  41. The Mighty Biff

    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.

  42. Steve Cooper

    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.

  43. Louis

    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...

  44. Bruno Girin

    Telephone Preference Service

    For all of you in the UK annoyed by cold calls, register your number with the Telephone Preference Service ( 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.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    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)

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    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.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    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.


  49. Ashwin Shah

    @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

    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....

  50. John Murgatroyd

    £5.00 jeans

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

    You wear them ?

    Sad !

  51. Jolyon
    Paris Hilton

    Not racism, just frustration

    Outsourcing to India has not delivered good services but has increased profits.

    Hardly a surprise that people are cheesed off.

    Paris Hilton because she knows how to submerge a length without breaking it.

  52. Marty

    racist? i dont think so....

    its pathetic.... time and time again people get painted with the racist brush for speaking out about what your not happy with....

    I get fed up with call centres when you cant understand the accent, they cant understand yours.. poor quality lines... and a million other problems....

    i get fed up of the 30 calls a week trying to seel me stuff i dont want, all originating from overseas....

    the thing is, the issue is because the call centres are overseas, where the langage they are trying to support a product in, or sell a product is not their first language. It is totaly understandable that the population do not like it....

    it has nothing to do with race or raciasm, its to do with wanting to talk to someone who understands you and you can understand them...

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: £5.00 jeans

    @John Murgatroyd

    "You wear them ? Sad!"

    I wish all the luck to John Murgatroyd who gets up in the morning by an alarm clock (perhaps in a mobile phone?) built in the UK. Goes to work in a car built in the UK, with petrol from the UK. (note that it was built with British Steel). The office he works in is not an american/european/asian company, and does no business with any entity outside the UK.

    He considers himself superior to people who wear £5 jeans, as the denim he wears is made from cotton grown in the UK.

    Actually, he is reading these articles and commenting on them in a PC whose chip, mobo, and operating system were all made in the UK.

    (Back in the real universe, of course we've had globalization since the day's of industrial revolution.)

  54. Desi Banda

    RE: @Ashwin

    "Globilistation (sic) benefits only the very rich."

    What an idiot, really. Where do you think the profits reaped from outsourcing go? They not only line the pockets of CEOs and other such big d!cks but also the average shareholder who expects more and more out of his investment. Do you really think all these large corporations are privately-owned? On a side note, the idiot quoted above has the gall to comment on the English skills of non-native speaker when he can't spell jackshyte.

    I fail to understand why some people jump up and down about outsourcing. Outsourcing is only applicable to lowskill jobs like support (reading out from a freaking manual is not rocket science). If you are really concerned about your job going overseas make yourself more valuable. Don't be that lazy fool with a superlarge sense of entitlement.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @RE: £5.00 jeans

    Well, if he *were* driving a car nuilt in the UK, he'd never get to work, so the rest is irrelevant!

  56. VivR

    @RE: £5.00 jeans

    "if he *were* driving a car nuilt in the UK, he'd never get to work,.."

    turns out that there is a bigger tragedy awaiting us. I hate to be the bearer of this most unfortunate news but..

    our beloved john, unfortunately met with an accident whilst driving his wonderful UK made car.

    I am pleased to announce that luckily, the car had this german airbag system, so he is fine.

    he is currently recovering at an NHS hospital with an Indian doctor and a South African nurse looking after him. he is currently watching a TV made in Asia, and is nostaligically wishing the world went back the old days.

    UK was still an agricultural society and India and China were the richest countries on the planet. Aahh.. those good old pre globalization days!

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They will just replace the cable

    it's not the end of anything, oceanic equivalent of a tractor DOS someone will lose money on it but the world is not changing because of this.

  58. James O'Brien
    Dead Vulture

    RE: They will just replace the cable

    Actually it may be another nudge in the right direction. Reason I say this is that alot of those same companies who outsourced are starting to feel the backlash against them by the people who they sell their products to. Not only that but the great big boon they saved in money is probably going to cost them as they dumped off the labor that was costing them the most (notice I didnt say skilled labor as there are idiot everywhere. . .im sure some are still lurking in our midst [/em peers around nervously.]) But it is going to cost them even more to setup the call centers back in the respective countries due to having already shelled out overseas.

    This may just push it again in the right direction because chances are the companies that have the most invested overseas will most then likely hear the most complaints about people not getting service or something of that like IN ADDITION to the current crop of complaints.

    (Vulture in hopes of a better tomorrow. . .ten years from now)

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You'd be horrified!!

    Trust me it's not just the likes of MS & HP that are offshoring. Won't go into to much detail but if I did most of you guys would be shocked to find out what is supported out there.

    Big Gov & coporate outsourcing of the eighties needed to find there cost savings somewhere.

  60. Danny

    @Desi Banda

    'Where do you think the profits reaped from outsourcing go? They not only line the pockets of CEOs and other such big d!cks but also the average shareholder who expects more and more out of his investment'

    Most people who hold enough shares to reap any benefits are not exactly on the breadline, are they? Plus, more and more large companies are heading into private ownership. Also, as has been reported elsewhere on El Reg companies who give dividends these days are considered stupid on the financial markets - all that matters is growth and pushing the share price up.

    With regards to my spelling, it was a slight typo - so what. If you read the rest of my comments you would have noticed that I did spell globalisation correctly the first time. You are also confusing WRITING with SPEAKING. Being dyslexic and have difficulty spelling, does not mean you have a small vocabulary and do not have the means to communicate very effectively when speaking.

    'fail to understand why some people jump up and down about outsourcing. Outsourcing is only applicable to lowskill jobs like support (reading out from a freaking manual is not rocket science)'

    So support consists solely of reading from a manual does it? Thats where I have been going wrong then. No need to know the product thoroughly through personal use, no need to know of any issues NOT in the manual, no need to be able to listen to the customers problem and what they have done to try and resolve it - instead just read from the script even when the script is asking the same things that they have just told you they have done.

    And I beg to differ, but it is not only low-skilled jobs (and even if it were, my point still stands about the millions lost in taxes). A friend of mine worked for a reasonably sized company (about 200 employees) in a department of about 20. The department managed everything from setting up hardware, network configuration, user policies, bespoke programming and support. The company was bought by a larger one. The CEO and senior managers got big bonuses and nice pay rises. This department of highly skilled people was deemed unnecessary because they kept everything running well. As is the case with most I.T. departments, people only notice you when things go wrong. Everything the department did was outsourced to India as it was cheaper. Software query, well support is just reading the manual. Server or network error, that's ok it can be managed remotely unless it is an actual hardware fault in which case it's cheap enough to pay a contractor for a one-off job. Some programming needs doing - much cheaper to have it done in India. All but one of those 20 employees was made redundant, given a pitiful redundancy package and told to go. The remaining person was a traitorous git who was given a marginal pay rise and a relocation package to go to India and train the new staff in procedures.

    Since then, at least 2 people from that department are still unemployed. Highly trained and skilled or not it is becoming harder and harder to find well paid work as we lose more jobs. Fewer jobs = more people applying for them. Why pay someone with a proven track record and 10 years experience when you can employ somebody who has recently graduated for 10-15k less?

    1 person lost their home and their family as they couldn't pay the mortgage and the stress of it all destroyed his marriage. Don't know what happened to him after that. 1 more person was 'lucky' enough to be able to pay his mortgage but the stress and longer working hours destroyed his marriage too.

    3 people tried to set up their own company which failed in under 2 years as they couldn't compete on price (quality of service doesn't mean much these days) taking their savings along with it.

    As for the traitor. After his 2 years, his contract was not renewed and there was no relocation package to get him settled back in England. Since then the company has lost customers and is losing money as more people are unhappy with the level of support, the code they ask for is buggy as hell and takes far longer to sort out as it gets passed back and forth, has more downtime when things like the webserver go titsup and the remaining employees really don't enjoy their job any more.

    For those of you claiming comments like this are racist - you are way off the mark. As Marty said, it isn't about racism it's about being unhappy with the way things are going.


    If you think my comments are aimed at the people involved - they aren't. They are just doing the job they are paid for, just like the rest of us. It's the companies who should be ashamed of themselves and our governments should step in to do something. It destroys lives and hurts our economy in the long run.

    'BTW Bad at the Queen's English != uneducated'

    Not at all, but just one example from personal experience. I rang Dell to report a piece of faulty memory. I knew exactly what was at fault as I had tested it. The guy in India asked me to remove the memory and switch the machine on and -his words- See if it booted! Even somebody with no training but that has taught themselves to build a PC from components knows that if you switch a PC on without memory, it gives a beep code telling you there is no memory or it is faulty. Even when I pointed this out to him, and that there is no way this machine would boot without memory all it would do is beep at me, he kept insisting it would. Eventually I gave in and put the phone to the machine as it was beeping, then asked him was he happy now that I had been proven correct that I actually know what i am talking about. Not knowing something as basic as that means badly educated to fulfil that role.It seems sometimes that the only qualifications need to work in an Indian call centre is the ability to read from a script and speak english to a certain level (in some cases not even a high level). You don't need to knwo anything because like Desi said, support is just reading from a manual.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It seems sometimes that the only qualifications need to work in an Indian call centre is the ability to read from a script and speak english to a certain level (in some cases not even a high level)."

    This kind of comment is where you let yourself down Danny. As other posters have said, the issue is not the workers in the Indian call centres, it is the companies who set up the outsourcing. It amazes me to see how surprised people are when outsourcing to a "partner" company fails. After all what interest do those people have in the UK/US based company they are acting for. It is not their company after all.

    I work for an IT company who set up an Indian branch as a means to expand rather than replacing the UK staff. The Indian office has steadily grown in experience and have taken on ownership of various parts of the product. We still have the strategic decisions made in the UK and the core development and client facing staff in the UK and that will never change. Both offices work well together and although the Indians are paid less, it is probably a lot more when compared to the cost of living in that part of India. Yes it probably took longer to set up, but the eventual returns for the company are much bigger, nobody in the UK got fired and the company gets quality educated staff.

    One other point about these "uneducated" call centre staff in India. The majority of these guys are degree level educated. I can't imagine that would be the case in a UK call centre. The issue that needs to be resolved is any strong accents of these staff. Either by not recruiting due to the strong accent or by elocution lessons.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From bad to worse

    The connectivity situation in UAE has just gone from bad to worse, as yet another cable has been damaged, this time between Oman and UAE. The immediate impact is that much of the Internet connectivity is down and international calls seem to be severely affected as well. Perhaps it's time for UAE to do a bit of continuity planning for Internet infrastructure.

  63. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Desi Banda

    As someone who has worked both sides of the IT support fence for a high technology, high skill, non PC and Windows computing product (think propriority UNIX), I find that all of the criticisms of non-UK support centres are largely real.

    When I worked in the UK support centre, we prided ourselves in high first-time-fix (60%+) rates. We had people who knew the product, and could talk intelligently about problems available on the first call. Our customer satisfaction rate was high, even though it was a centre for dealing with largely unhappy people (if they were happy, they didn't need to call).

    I no longer work in the support centre, which has been partially moved to India, but I still have to call. My heart sinks when one of my calls is routed to India. Not only am I dealing with a complex product, with a lot of non-english words, but I am talking to someone for whom english is not their native language, who has probably learned from either an American, or another Indian.

    I now find that it is simpler to just describe the problem in an email rather than having to describe the chvirtprt (for example) command. So, no first time fix. And many of my collegues feel the same.

    All of the UK jobs lost were at or above the national average salary, except for trainees, who moved up over time. Where have the jobs to replace these come from?

    I know that globalisation required it to be done to remain competative, and I also know that it is me affected, not Joe Bloggs on the street so there are sour grapes involved, but I cannot think it is good for UK customers, UK employees, or HMRC. And I think the benefit of NI and Income Tax, and all secondary tax (such as VAT) probably out weigh the shareholder and Corporation Tax benefits, especially if the company reports outside of the UK.

    Please note that I am quite happy working with people from anywhere in the world, and have many non-european friends gathered over the years. I am just talking about the technicalities of fixing problems.

    And to all of you anon. cowards (not Desi, though), if you really feel strongly, you should rant in your own name!

  64. VivR

    How mass markets work (esp Quality vs Cost)

    OK, let us agree for the sake of argument that quality of people working in UK call centers is 10 times better than those in call centers outside UK. All people in IT call centers in the UK had assembled a PC themselves, and knew all the products, and spoke the 'propah' english.

    Do people really care about this when they buy something? E.g. Dell has call centers in India, and continues to enjoy a huge market share in PC market.

    In a free market, any premium for better product or service has to be justified to the customer. Not everyone wants to buy a Rolls Royce/Jaguar all the time, people can be happy to buy a Ford Fiesta too. The mass markets are driven by costs, its only in the niche/premium markets where the consumer is really willing to pay much more than the real utility gained.

    The CEO's and the like are precisely evaluating this cost premium vs any potential losses when they move production bases to China or call centers to India. (OK i might get 1 in 100 batch of toys with bad paint in my chinese plant vs 1 in 300 in my UK plant, but the cost of each toy is 40% less! .. would people really buy my company's toys if they were 10 times more robust but 3 times more costly?)

    A CEO is primarily answerable to the company's shareholders, not to the unions or a "Polit Bureau".

    In the 18th/19th century, the British were able to destroy the Indian textile industry not because the mass produced textiles from Manchester were better than the hand loom silks and cotton stuff made in India.

    They were able to destroy it buy levying tarrifs, and in some cases, by just cutting the thumbs of the weavers in Bengal. In case of China, the opium trade did the trick.

    This is how globalized markets work, and UK has been the pioneer and primary benfactor of globalization so far. Before globalization, India and China were the richest countries on this planet. Within 100 years, they were seeing huge famines, whereas the standard of living trebled in the UK/Europe.

    However, history teaches us that civilizations tend to rise and fall in cycles. Some days, you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue. Market forces ensure that any deviation from an inequilibrium creates some other corrective force. (another corrective inequilibrium)

    Right now, most asian currencies currencies are greatly undervalued in the Forex markets as compared to their domestic purchasing power, whereas the Pound and the dollar are grossly overvalued. Till such time that this inequilibrium exists, Asian countries shall continue to have a huge cost advantage that is the main basis for consumer choice in mass markets.

  65. Desi Banda
    Thumb Down

    @Peter Gathercole

    Again, you can't blame the Indian support industry for the problems your company is facing. Your company did a crappy job of identifying an offshore contractor. If you didn't do your research well when buying a used car and bought a lemon, would you blame yourself or the seller?

    "Oh, these used car sellers are so bad, they sell you junk". How ridiculous does it sound? Nobody forced you to buy the car, it was YOUR decision. Now make the right substitutions and see if it makes sense.

  66. Desi Banda


    Reading your posts I get the implication that Western support centers always deliver excellent service while Indian (and other outsourcees) ones are always bad, or at least of an inconsistent quality.

    The truth couldn't be further from that. I agree that the Indian accent does sound weird to someone not used to it, but the same holds good for regional ones too. I've had trouble understanding customer reps with a heavy Southern (US) accent in the past. So then, should we have local call centers in every region? Someone in California must only call the Southwest regional call center? If they call the Southern one, heaven help them?

    I beg to differ. As long as the rep is competent enough to solve your query, the accent shouldn't matter after all it is the same freaking language!! IMHO, a bad call center is a bad call center, whether it is in India, China, or Mars. Companies that outsource should make an attempt to ascertain whether they are getting the same kind of quality from their offshore contractors. After all, quality is what matters first, cost cutting comes afterwards. So, if you really have a problem with customer support blame the company not the foreigner who is only trying to make a honest living like everyone else.

    Btw, apologize for the rudeness in my previous post but I got a little ticked off by the stereotyping.

  67. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Hmmm , the problem with cold calls from out sourced self wanking companies is compounded by the fact that all cold call registers give a very wide latitude of exemptions to the rules also since it is automated by block phone number dialling it is able to breach the hidden unlisted number barrier as well !

    One person found the most effective and cheapest way to completely block them was to have a telephone answering machine programmed with the old Ma Bell standard disconnected tone set prior to his message . Now since the computer block dialling software is primarily aimed at the worlds largest phone market it has also been programmed to recognize standard US telecommunication tones as well . Thus when it encounters said tones it is automatically programmed to remove the telephone number from the dialling block automatically to skip to next one on the list of contiguous numbers thus !

    The real problem with all telephone users mobile(has message bank/text capacity built in plus caller id) lies with end user that jumps instantly to answer the phone ! Thus , by running a call screening device like an answering machine you let it do the work and only those real people business friends family or associates normally leave a message and the cold callers just drop off instantly as no one is home to listen to the unwanted craptastic of the month they have to sell or so they think !

    Thus since installing the answering machine on the land line I do not give a rats a! every time the phone rings as 99% of the messages so once or twice a day when passing the machine push the replay button and the machine shows no message of consequence is deleted end of story , no register to sign up no predetermined re-registration at later date to worry about at all !

    That is how the cold callers win because of the saying "answer the B! phone now !" thus from a young age we are programmed to answer the phone at all cost ! So if you imagine if 95 percent of all land line users installed an answering machine and did not jump to instantly answer the phone the current market for cold calling would literally die overnight !

    As Paris would say "think outside the square !" :)

  68. Treacle

    After 5 lines down, a pattern?

    Apparently five lines have been "cut" now...

    Perhaps a campaign?

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