back to article Three simultaneously cut undersea cables under repair

Ships have begun repair work on three undersea cables that carry voice and internet traffic between Europe and the Middle East and Asia after they were severed on Friday. A robot submarine dispatched by France Telecom has arrived at a location in the Mediterranean Sea where it will locate the ends of two broken cables and …


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  1. Neil Greatorex

    Simultaneously cut

    "The odds are whatever cut one cable cut the other two at the same time, be it a fishing boat, or be it an anchor,"

    "Telecommunications companies are in the process of building four new cables in the region, which are slated to be up and running in the next nine to 18 months, Beckert said."

    Which means that 7 cables will be "simultaneously cut" next time around :-(

  2. Suburban Inmate

    I have a cunning plan!

    As the cables are laid, have a robot sub go just ahead of them to dig a trench in the sea bed and lay the cable in that.

    But then again there's probably a reason that hasn't been done, I'm not a sea bed cable laying engineer.

  3. Andy Barber


    "Companies that don't have redundancy contingencies in place are simply unreachable."

    Because they are simply unreliable & incompetent!

  4. baswell

    @:Suburban Inmate: that is what they do!

    They do put it in a trench in shallow water, but sometimes an anchor drags into the sediment as well. Or currents and other activity expose the cable over time.

    If you have a few spare hours, this is an interesting read:

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    So, whose spooks were responsible?

    Interesting that so many cables should be "accidentally" severed at once.

    Any bets as to which security service was responsible?

  6. Kanhef
    Paris Hilton

    How about

    not laying multiple cables next to each other?

  7. Silo Spen


    So this is the RIAA's new throttling technique!

  8. Moss Icely Spaceport

    Cheap Chinese cable?

    Better use Monster cables next time!

  9. Dave Harris Silver badge


    Thanks for that link, i lost my bookmark to it during a machine switch a couple of years ago

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    bit odd?

    i am just curious has anyone done the odds to against of this happening?

    if so where is it posted?

    but even without the odds it seems very unlikely that such event would occur at random this had to be planned very carefully.

  11. Andy ORourke

    @ bit odd?

    The odds arent that high considering these cables got cut round about this time last year. There are far more cable cuts around the world than you would think.

    The problem is worse close to shore because lots of cables all come ashore fairly close to each other and if large ships anchor up to avoid a storm the anchor digs into the sebed, ship gets blown around, anchor dredges the cable and "Ping" you have a cable cut.

    Severe storm, large ship, close to shore "Ping" "Ping" "Ping"

    Still, 16 hours at double time and time off in lieu for redirecting our traffic over the weekend, nice Xmas bonus for me :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It wasn't a conspiracy before

    I love the way the article explicitly states that it wasn't a conspiracy before, and the comments explicitly state that it IS.

    Besides, if it were a conspiracy, it'd much more likely be one that middle eastern governments were perpetrating against their own people to cut them off from non-controlled media outlets. Aside from nested conspiracies in the form of False Flag type operations, what on earth does the west actually have to gain by doing it, apart from less spam?

  13. A.Coward

    A New Dawn

    Thus begins the age of the Anchor Terrorist!

  14. Tim

    @ AC 08:57

    We wouldn't gain less spam, almost all of it comes from the US anyway (or did until someone pulled the plug on the ISP last month).

    Oh, if anyone's into undersea stuff, I recommend a book called Blind Man's Buff, tis a good read.


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Conspiracy-Central Calling

    > Aside from nested conspiracies in the form of False Flag type operations, what on earth does the west actually have to gain by doing it, apart from less spam?"

    If you wanted to insert trunk data interception devices into every pathway to a region (say, the Middle East, which is home to Iran, Syria, etc.) then how would you do it? Well, satellites are easily covered - just point a dish at it. Regional and long haul radio broadcasts are also readily intercepted, especially now there's a Western-friendly neighbour in Iraq. (How many millions or black-program dollars have been spent in Iraq? You didn't think catering and security contracts were that expensive for nothing, did you? That money buys a lot of hardware for listening posts). Microwave bearers and landlines can be got at reasonably easily, and that leaves undersea cables. If you break the connection (probably on land) to insert your device, someone will definitely notice ... unless there's an explainable outage that lasts long enough to do it. When the outage is fixed, hey presto, you're reading their mail.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who wants to bet this is caused by Islamic militants trying to isolate the middle east from the west?

    I'll be very interested to see if they have any idea when they see the cable ends how they were severed.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andy Barber - redundancy

    If you're the military or an investment bank, or large international IT consultancy, company then yes, they probably can afford redundant links using satellites.

    If you're a small outfit, then you can't afford your own comms links around the world, so you rely on the internet to transport your packets from A to B and have no idea what means, what physical layer or route they travel to get to their destination. And you rely on the telco's to re-route traffic when there is a failure.

    Perhaps the telcos should themselves have enough cables laid down via alternative routes, or ensure they have sufficient satellite bandwidth to enable a failback solution that doesn't result in considerably reduced performance.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The telco's should be talking to Paradigm and buying bandwidth off Skynet 5!

  19. Liam Pennington

    @ Cause

    Now that ICANN or whoever it is will allow non-Roman script domains, maybe the Middle East will be isolated from the rest of the Internet (as it t'were) sooner than later anyway....

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Routing European/Asian data through US?

    Conspiracy theories seem to overlook what to me is glaringly obvious: traffic that would normally pass between Europe and Asia will now pass through the US where it can be scrutinised in detail by interested entities.

  21. Avi



  22. Andrew Witham


    The route the cable takes:

    South East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe....

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I say it's Captain Nemo.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    It is ridiculous...

    that the whole internet economy has been stopped still twice in a year and we have to rely on 3 cables for the entire system. Is it not worth spending a bit more money to make it secure ?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @It is ridiculous...

    No, what's ridiculous is the concept that you might lay two cables to carry the traffic of one, thus providing 100% redundancy - these are expensive toys and can't be just left lying around not earning "just in case" they are needed one day.

    Yes, there are a few 'self-healing ring' cables, such as Southern Cross, but even so, you have the choice of buying protected or non-protected capacity on it - you'll never guess which is the most expensive.

    And for all you conspiracy theorists - I've seen the map of of where the cuts are - the 3 cables involved (SeaMeWe3 & 4 plus FLAG) all lie close together as they round the corner of Sicily.

    The FLAG cable is heading around the coast to Palermo, SMW4 is passing by , heading towards France and a branch off SMW3 crosses these two heading into Mazara del Vallo - all three of these have been cut.

    The map I'm looking at shows 17 cables landing on Sicily, all except 2 of them at that end of the island, so yes, it's real easy for a dragged anchor to cut more than one at a time.

  26. James O'Brien

    Who thought of this name?

    SeaMeWe??? I cant believe theres only one other poster with their mind in the gutter like me.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    This is how it's done

    Any cable cutting would have to plausibly explained by "an accident". The reality of clandestine ops is that it isn't a bunch of G-men in dark suits and dark glasses, or SEAL teams in deep-diving rigs cutting cables with lasers. You pay cheap contractors to do a lot of the low-risk, mundane leg work (and even some of the high-risk mindane legwork) and, if you want some undersea cables cut, you pay some old rust bucket's captain, with large gambling debts or similar leverage, to drag his anchor.

  28. Alain

    I can certainly feel the pinch...

    Downloading stuff from an ADSL-connected box in S-E Asia daily, usual speed >50kB/s, today it's <3Kb/s, connection drops all the time.

  29. Cortland Richmond

    Oh look!

    "some companies are re-routing traffic between Europe and Asia, and between Europe and the Middle East, through the US or other out-of-the-way destinations"

    How convenient!

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