Accident or sabotage? Mysterious disconnection of submarine cable in the Red Sea

In recent hours, the Red Sea has once again drawn global attention, but this time not as a conflict zone. On this occasion, the cutting of four submarine internet cables has affected connections in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

As is well known, most of the world’s Internet data traffic is connected in aggregate 500 submarine cable Which reach any continent and country. In particular, the Red Sea, in addition to being one of the largest commercial traffic points in the world, has more than 15 Internet connections that reach various locations such as countries in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and approximately 80% from Asia to the West. Traffic going towards passes through the cables.

As it unfolded over the past few hours, various affected companies and states have described the incident as strange. Although the cable outage did not disconnect any country from the Internet wall street journal It was reported that there was a significant decline in service in India, Pakistan and parts of East Africa.

Although the cause of the incident has not yet been clarified, various authorities have said they are investigating whether the cables were intentionally cut or the ship’s anchor was involved. Observers have noted that the cables could have been damaged by the recent sinking of the British cargo ship Rubymar, which was targeted by Houthi forces on February 18 and abandoned by its crew. The affected cables belong to SEACOM, TGN-Gulf, Asia-Africa-Europe 1 and Europe India Gateway.

On the one hand, SEACOM, an African provider, confirmed that the delivery of connections will only begin in the second quarter. Europe India Gateway still belongs to a consortium of investors, which includes US telecom giants AT&T and Verizon. Tata Communications, the Indian telecommunications company that operates the TGN cable, confirmed that its cable near Yemen was damaged and some services were disrupted or diverted.

For its part, the Telecommunications Ministry of Yemen, a country that has been in controversy in recent months for being a base for the Houthi rebel groups, denied speculation about its responsibility for the internet failures and said that “Efforts are made to keep all undersea telecommunication cables away from any potential risk.” However, the government warned in January that the Houthis could damage the cables.

consequences

Connectivity and communications rely largely on submarine cables to effectively convey information. As analysts have pointed out, the breakage of these cables will put a brake on essential functions and activities in the short term, and hence will have an impact. critical digital infrastructure For a state. For example, these undersea cables are responsible for 95% of international communications and data flows, estimated to involve financial transactions totaling US$10 billion.

On the other hand, some analysts say that these cables could affect military activities regarding the flow of information. Following the same line, today the protection of these critical underwater infrastructures has become a security issue that countries address in their national strategies.

Furthermore, the Houthi presence in the region and continued conflict will make repairing these damaged cables even more complicated, as permits are required to work in the affected area, meaning services will be affected in the long term, and Installation Installing new cabling is a risky task.

However, specialized media telegeography suggests that the cutting of the four cables has no effect on it, as data passing through the damage can be sent south, around the Cape of Good Hope, or east, through Asia and . United States.

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