You may have noticed in the news that during the last week at least four submarine cables in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Golf have broken or are experiencing technical problems. For example Guardian.co.uk, BBC.co.uk and Heise.de have reported about it. Unconfirmed sources even talk about up to 8-9 cut undersea cables.
The affected lines are vital to the Internet access of most countries in the Middle East. Due to the breakdown these countries have experienced serious disruptions in their means of communication which were still perceptible even in India. According to Heise.de the available bandwidth in India was reduced by about 60% of its original capacity.
At least three submarine cables have broken off shore. Now experts started searching for the reasons of this major blackout.
[map taken from Renesys Blog]
Some say that they could have been damaged by ships, probably when they were anchoring or trying to do so. Ok … if it was only one cable this could be reasonable, but that actually three were cut at nearly the same day which are miles away from each other? Furthermore undersea cables are shown in every nautical chart and regions in which ships could easily damage these cables are normally restricted area, so that they cannot even get near to it. Finally the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt published a press release which clearly states that no ships have been observed which could be responsible for the cut off of the cable in the Mediterranean Sea …
Another possible reason for the cables to break could have been an earthquake. Dailywireless.org reports that there was at least one earthquake in this region which occurred last Saturday. But it looks like that nearly no one sets it in relation with the demolition of the cables. Probably because no cable got cut off on the day of the earthquake …
Now of course also conspiracy theories are flourishing. On the one hand it could be a terrorist attack … yes sure, as always. On the other hand there are voices (for example mathaba.net or Schall und Rauch) who are blaming the administration and secret service of a certain country. The theories start at a kind of sabre-rattling to warn the Arabic World of opening the Iranian oil bourse and thereby establishing a fourth oil marker, denominated by non-dollar currencies. A more radical theory sees a similar event to 9/11 at dawn, as directly before 9/11 major Muslim Web sites were shut down by US governmental organizations. Independent of the motivation behind it, if these incidents have really been initiated by the government in question, it would come close to an act of war. And this would really be stupid of a country which stands for freedom and democracy (… I hope).
So concluding it is really not clear why those cables broke … concerning myself I think it was Nessie which did it in an act of desperation. Decades ago one of the most exciting adventures on earth was to travel to Loch Ness and see if one could spot Nessie. Meanwhile it takes just a few clicks wherever you are to see Nessie exposed. So naturally Nessie bit through various Internet cables to grab again public attention and to stop the virtual exhibition of itself.
And why exactly in this area? Well, if you could choose during those cold days to be in the comfortable Mediterranean Sea or Persian Golf instead of a frosty Scottish lake, what would you do?
If you are curious about where you can spot Nessie next, there is a map of all submarine cables online at telegeography.com. By the way, about 90-95% of our Internet and telephone traffic is routed through undersea cables. Hope you have a heart with us Nessie?!