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 Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Guardian reports on how tens of millions of internet users across the Middle East and Asia have been left without access to the web due to a fault in a single undersea cable believed to be a major internet pipeline connecting to Europe. The outage was said to have first struck yesterday morning and has severely restricted internet access in India, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"The line in question runs under the Mediterranean, from Palermo in Italy to Alexandria in Egypt. It is not clear what caused the break. The cable is one of only a handful of connections, and part of the world's longest undersea cable, 24,500 miles long, running from Germany, through the Middle East and India before terminating in Australia and Japan... Egyptian officials said that around 70% of the country's online traffic was being blocked, while officials in Mumbai said that more than half of India's internet capacity had been erased, which could have potentially disastrous consequences for the country's burgeoning hi-tech industry. 'There has been a 50% to 60% cut in bandwidth,' Rajesh Charia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India told Reuters."

According to the report, the outage will take several days to fix, and could have a drastic impact on communications, businesses and the hi-tech industry as well as banks and stock market trading around the region and across the globe.

More details on the digital blackout here.