back to article Epic net outage in Africa as FOUR undersea cables chopped

Underwater data cables linking East Africa to the Middle East and Europe have been severed, bringing transfer rates to their knees in nine countries. In a bizarre coincidence, a ship allegedly dropped anchor off the coast of Kenya on Saturday in a restricted area, cutting The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) cable - shortly …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I reckon it was MOSSAD, it's definitely a conspiracy, this sort of thing can never be a cock up.

    No, really.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: Conspiracy

      MOSSAD. OK, so they've 3 weeks to nuke the "nukes" in Iraq ("Eye-wrack" for our western friends).

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Re: Conspiracy

        I think this time round Israel are focusing on Iran* not on Iraq

        *not to be confused with Apple's new joint venture with Nike, iRan

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

          @James Micallef

          "*not to be confused with Apple's new joint venture with Nike, iRan"

          I like your style. Do you think Apple will tell the world that they can no longer call the country IRAN?

    2. N13L5

      Re: Conspiracy

      Couldn't be Mossad, since all the wrong countries are affected, and they're not usually that clumsy on their way to world domination... so probably just the CIA or MI6 got sick of falling for free cash offers from African consulars.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge

    So many African cables cut

    It's a good thing that the dark continent is firmly joined at Egypt, otherwise it might float off.

  3. Anomalous Cowturd

    650 feet is shallow waters?

    That would need an anchor chain/cable over half a mile long...


    1. SteveK

      Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

      650 feet = 198 meters = 0.123 miles, not half a mile. Or are you including drag and water currents to work out the length of cable needed to still be scraping the bottom from a vessel moving on the surface rather than just trailing along in the water?

      Maybe it's been stolen and sold as scrap? :)

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

        Pfft - youth of today. Converting feet to metres to get back to miles! At least you got it right - you should apply for a job with NASA.

        1. SteveK

          Re: Re: Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

          I didn't convert to metres to get to miles, I just included it as a reference!

      2. SkippyBing

        Re: Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

        I believe he's including the anchor scope in his calculation, the weight of the cable on the seabed is as important as the hook at the end in holding a ship in position so you need more than enough cable to touch the seabed. 650' is still shallow in the grand scheme of things though, trans-oceanic cables are several miles down.

      3. Anomalous Cowturd

        @SteveK Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

        As eny fule nose, you need at least four times the length of chain/rope as depth of water. Twice that in bad weather.

        </salty sea dog>

      4. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

        Nautical mile Shirley (for the pendants among you),

        1 Nautical Mile = 6,076.1 feet, therefore 650ft = 0.106976515 mile = 1415.197 Linguine = 21.4912 Double-decker bus or 1.4327 Brontosaurusesesesesesss

        Paris, 'cos I wouldn't care if was a nautical mile high or a land mile high.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

        The transit tyre tracks and Staff teeth marks on the cable give it away

        Check the scrapyards around Wickford

    2. Kernel

      Re: 650 feet is shallow waters?

      The record for retrieving and repairing a cable is from a depth of 10km - work out how much trailing rope that would take, and then contemplate the difficulty of finding and cutting the cable initially, and then having to hook and retrieve each side of the cut to effect the repair.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Incautious trawling

    I remember when working in an exchange near Dover in the seventies where undersea cables terminated being told about an incident where the same trawler went through 3 cables in a row. Apparantly when the idiot caught them in his nets he went through the cables with an oxy-acetylene torch and was caught about to do this to a fourth by a boarding party. He didn't seem fully to appreciate until he lost his boat in the civil courts that he would have been compensated for his nets if he'd stopped and reported this unwelcome catch, and that the lost telephony traffic was worth a lot more than his boat.

  5. TheKeffster

    Well it should be a quiet month in the inbox then with the lads from Lagos cut off!

    1. SteveK

      I was going to make a similar point but noticed that Nigeria wasn't in the list of countries affected. Shame.

    2. SW

      Geography failure

      Unless Nigeria has shifted east by a LOOOOOOOOOONG way.

    3. Reginald Gerard

      Some good cable maps of the world for those with a geography deficit

      actually quite a lot more infrastructure than I expected. Probably TBits of it still dark after the collapse of the internet bubble back in 2001.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Some good cable maps of the world for those with a geography deficit

        Thanks - that was fun. Some surprises there, like the 5Tbps link to Svalbard.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Three weeks without internet?

    Imagine if that happened here in the UK.

    It'd be a disaster, productivity would be through the roof.

    1. Mr Young

      Re: Three weeks without internet?

      Please stop trying to scare me will you?

    2. Xenobyte

      Re: Three weeks without internet?

      Depends on which type of company I guess... A hosting company like the one I'm working for would be rather paralyzed without Internet. Same thing with a newspaper or similar.

      But your run-of-the-mill office might experience a change in pace... Old previously thought long extinct ways of wasting time would be making a huge comeback...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Three weeks without internet?

        You mean I'd have to take a newspaper to the bogs again? quelle horreur!

      2. Dan 10

        Re: Re: Three weeks without internet?

        Indeed, it would in fact be the duty of every worker to do so. Failure to maintain the expected skive rate could result in increased productivity, which would in turn result in the internet NEVER being re-connected to the office. Oh, the horror!

    3. Milo Minderbinder

      Re: Three weeks without internet?

      "...productivity would be through the roof".

      Nope - everything would come to a grinding halt. We had a couple of outages at my previous employer (where I did desktop support/server admin/network maintenance and troubleshooting).

      When I noticed everyone was sitting around, drinking coffee and playing solitaire, I asked why they were not working (out of curiosity - we had been outsourced to another company, so technically it was none of my business), only to be told that they cannot do anything or communicate with anyone, since the network is down.

      So I said "How did we work five years ago, before we had e-mail?"

      It just never crossed their minds that they could still call on the phone and send faxes.

      Tbh, some people really did not appreciate that.

  7. SJRulez

    Ive got a few spare rolls of CAT5, anyone got a few routers\hubs we can string together.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Several thousand kilometres at 100m per junction? I think it'd be more a pain in powering those intermediate hubs/switches than anything else (but otherwise would be perfectly feasible for runs on the same order of magnitude).

      Gimme a solar-powered, floating, 2-port Gigabit Ethernet repeater/switch and you could cable just about anywhere. :-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, Internet faster than ever in East Africa

    Can't get good saboteurs these days can you? Typical story... job left half done. Down here in Tanzania, one of the supposedly freshly benighted spots, there's currently no difference to the round trip time: 244ms ping, can't be satellite, so some cable is still connected. Speed seems faster than usual too (admittedly that isn't saying much), which one would imagine mightn't be the case if the chopped fibre customers were all being diverted onto the one remaining cable.

  9. JamieL

    Anchor chain / warp scope

    @SteveK - general practice is for the ratio of anchor chain / warp (rope to you landlubbers) should be 5:1 or higher. Hence for 1/8 mile depth you are indeed looking at over 1/2 mile as per @Anomalous Cowturd

  10. Paul RND*1000

    Next time

    Can they aim for the cable connecting Nigeria to the rest of the world? Pretty please?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imagine if it happened to the US...

    Politicians would be completely at a loss as to whether to call for an international terrorist hunt or rejoice that those foreign websites were no longer able to steal Merkin jobs!

  12. Skilpadsop

    South Africa

    Some ISPs in South Africa are also affected. Everybody still has international connectivity through the two older cables, but for the last 10 days I've been getting less than 20KB/s when streaming video on my home ISP, instead of the usual 120 KB/s. My HSPA+ connection(differant ISP) had no issues though.

  13. Kev99 Silver badge

    To the CLoud Redux

    Eh-yup. Let's put all of our sensitive data on the Cloud. What a bunch of maroons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To the CLoud Redux

      I think you'll find that the United States and Europe cannot be cut off from the internet by two boats - particularly as they, for all intents and purposes, *are* the internet.

      'The cloud' has its drawbacks (the name, for one) and strengths, but for anyone in an industrialized nation, the worry of suddenly having your data sliced off by an errant fishing boat is remote.

  14. MrZoolook

    I thought my inbox looked empty

    I guess I know NOW why Mr Aswajubari of the Bank of African Speculative Time-shares And Redevelopment Departments (or BASTARDS for short) hasn't been in touch recently!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh it was a conspiracy...

    So we will have to park a fleet of armed warships over the top of the cables to stop this happening again. Nobody would mind if we permanently parked a carrier group or two in the Red Sea.

    1. Glenn Booth

      Re: Oh it was a conspiracy...

      AC @ 00:12

      Whether they mind or not is immaterial - we don't HAVE a carrier group or two to park in the Red Sea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Oh it was a conspiracy...

        No carrier group to park......

        hurrah for Nu Labour

  16. Carrawaystick

    nautical miles vary in length

    @Field Marshal Von Krakenfart the length of a nautical mile is the distance one minute of longitude extends on the surface of the sea locally. and as the earth is not spherical it varies when you measure it in feet or metres.

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      @ Carrawaystick

      I was going to follow up that very point on an earlier post, but couldn't be bothered...

      However, the highly regarded Wikipedia states:

      The international nautical mile was defined by the First International Extraordinary Hydrographic Conference, Monaco (1929) as exactly 1852 metres.[1] This is the only definition in widespread current use, and is the one accepted by the International Hydrographic Organization and by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

      What we both thought of as a proper nautical mile, is in fact, a sea mile. Vis:

      In English usage, a sea mile is, for any latitude, the length of one minute of latitude at that latitude. It varies from about 1,842.9 metres (6,046 ft) at the equator to about 1,861.7 metres (6,108 ft) at the poles, with a mean value of 1,852.3 metres (6,077 ft).[6] The international nautical mile was chosen as the integer number of metres closest to the mean sea mile.

      So, we are both wrong. And right.


  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Novel solution

    Many solutions to Africa's problems have been tried over the years but unplugging it and plugging it back in again was an obvious action

    1. Ole Juul
      Thumb Up

      Re: Novel solution

      Winning comment!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Novel solution

      We just have to hope it doesn't come down to a reformat...

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Black Helicopters

    Cockup versus conspiriacy.


    4 cables in a *very* short space of time does look pretty suspicious. While 650 feet is one serious anchor cable.

    Now there are people who do sea bed trawling for things like shell fish. They would go along the sea bed and an unscrupulous captain *could* read "restricted" area as "unfished" area, hence loaded with booty and worth a go.

    Which begs the question of how common sea bed trawling is in Africa?

    I don't think there's a shortage of unscrupulous captains who would try.

  19. Dave Bell

    Why undersea?

    Of course, it does look a bit silly to be running a cable underwater up the narrow Red Sea, but when you look at the neighbouring countries you wonder if things could be any safer by land.

    The first telegraph cable from London to India went mostly underwater for similar reasons of security. Some of those little red dots on the map were there to provide telegraph stations.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why undersea?

      Cost at sea. Hire of boat + x km of cable

      Cost on land. Permits, payments to landowners, bribes to local officials, hiring JCBs, digging a tunnel alongside a road, building a conduit, closing roads and building tunnels under them, building your own road and bridges where there aren't any - plus the cost of x km of cable.

      Then you have the risk - there are a lot more idiots with JCBs than there are idiots with anchors. Undersea cables are only really vulnerable when approaching land, there aren't a lot of people anchoring in 3000m deep oceans.

  20. Charles Smith

    Al Shabaab Submarine

    Maybe those pesky Somali's have obtained a wire cutter attached submarine?

  21. SJRulez

    UK metal thieves

    Probably tried to drag it up for metal and then realized it was optic.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK metal thieves

      When you said 'metal thieves' I immediately envisioned scores of 20-something Scandinavians robbing CD shops of bombastic guitar music.

      1. Mr Young

        Re: Re: UK metal thieves

        Hehe - that reminds me I have to wash my Iron Maiden concert Tshirt tonight for a job interview tomorrow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: UK metal thieves

          If you are planning on wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt to a job interview, would it not make more of an impact if it was *not* washed?

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: UK metal thieves

            Maybe the interview is at one of those self-consciously-snarky, nonconformity-is-required-at-all-times media design / marketing / web 2.0-type companies, where the appearance but not the *substance* of actual nonconformity is expected?

  22. nexsphil

    Better than an IQ test this

    If you think this is a coincidence, well done, you have discovered that you are a cowardly retard. Kill yourself.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better than an IQ test this

      "Never attribute to malice that which cannot be easily explained by incompetence."

      Also: Cowardice? Eh?

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