Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications Networking The Internet Hardware

The Effects of the Fibre Outage Throughout the Mediterranean 101

Posted by Zonk
from the need-some-unclogging-of-the-tubes dept.
Umar Kalim writes "Analysts have been studying the effects of the fibre outage throughout the Mediterranean in terms of network performance, by examining the changes in packet losses, latencies and throughput. We initially discussed the outage yesterday. 'It is interesting that some countries such as Pakistan were mainly unaffected, despite the impact on neighboring countries such as India. This contrasts dramatically to the situation in June - July 2005, when due to a fibre cut of SEAMEWE3 off Karachi, Pakistan lost all terrestrial Internet connectivity which resulted, in many cases, in a complete 12 day outage of services. This is a tribute to the increased redundancy of international fibre connectivity installed for Pakistan in the last few years.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Effects of the Fibre Outage Throughout the Mediterranean

Comments Filter:
  • Who will benefit? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @06:39AM (#22281250)
    The question I have not seen posed yet. Who will benefit? Who will benefit of this outage? Who would benefit from sealing off Egypt and other countries in the Middle-East? The Chinese? Hardly. The Brazilians? Hardly. The Vietnamese? Doubtfully. The Finns? Doubtful too. Ok, I'm at a loss. Wonder if anyone can come up with brighter guesses?
    • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Sunday February 03, 2008 @06:48AM (#22281268) Homepage Journal
      The question is really: Who would benefit from diminishing any country's Internet access during a time of war with that nation? Alternatively, conclusively proving that any nation's primary Internet backbone was destroyed might itself be the spark that ignites a war... who might benefit from that? Things get complicated pretty quickly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Or does someone benefit because they now have the ability to poke through all the traffic that is now being rerouted through their borders?

    • Re:Who will benefit? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pubjames (468013) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @06:58AM (#22281306)
      well, if you wanted to put a tap on a communication line I should think an outage would be very useful for you - it would give you time to install the tap with no one noticing. Otherwise installing a tap would be an extremely slow process, and one which potentially could be detected.
      • by dspisak (257340)
        Have you actually seen how an undersea cable is constructed? I find it highly dubious that someone would attempt tapping an undersea cable. Sure it sounds great on paper, but in practice doing it would require specialized custom made equipment to do it. And even then you would still have the possibility of the tap being discovered when the cable is having maintenance performed on it.
        • by treat (84622)
          Sorry, but the NSA is known to have tapped undersea cables.

          They have the resources for custom made equipment, you know.

          I don't think the NSA is too worried about their spying being discovered, as long as the media does not widely publicize it.
        • by rcpitt (711863)
          So creating a specialized vessel just to do undersea fibre taps seems out of the question? Depends on whose budget you're talking about Take a look at the stuff on Project Jennifer at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I think we already established in a previous story on this that the US has a submarine with modifications especially for for cable tapping. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Jimmy_Carter [wikipedia.org]
          • by mrbluze (1034940)
            I don't know if we should be pointing the finger at the US too soon. All manner of groups and nations have interests in the area and have the resources required to carry out this kind of sabotage, if it is sabotage. We'll find out soon anyway. Due date for repairs is around 10 days from now.
            • if the US had used the Carter to tap a cable, they would do it without any interruption, that is the whole point of the thing.
              • by mrbluze (1034940)

                if the US had used the Carter to tap a cable, they would do it without any interruption, that is the whole point of the thing.

                I am pretty certain that tapping the cable has nothing to do with why these lines are cut. The idea that this could be a prelude to war, though, does make a lot of sense, for the purposes of isolating Iran (eg: so they cannot get external intelligence easily, and cannot report casualty numbers in a timely manner, for example, in the event of a nuclear strike.)

      • by houghi (78078)
        If you cut three at the same time, people start to wonder and pay much more attention to both the repairs and the remaining lines.

        This could be something like: OK, we are going to do something, but we do not want anybody in the world to know about it, so how do we do it? Cut off their intertubes. That way they can not tell anubody else.

        Installing a tab you do not do by entering a building and tell the people there is a problem with the phone, after you caused that disturbence. What you do is place the bugs,
      • Re:taps (Score:5, Interesting)

        by yidele (947452) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @09:14AM (#22281820) Journal
        This isn't an analog line, genius. The traffic of interest is in the client/ tributary payload, so the logical place to put a tap is where the container terminates or where it is switched. that means a telecom data center, not the bottom of the ocean. Additionally you needen't "splice" into live media ( thereby causing noticeable loss of traffic and noticably increased signal attenuation afterwards) - telecom transmission technology allows switching to protection at speeds 50 milisec, which is not noticable to human hearing...anyway, the data of interest would be on an encrypted data, not voice channel. 80GB is a lot of voice traffic, to sort this out in realtime you'd need a pretty stout set of telecomm eqpt. Consider that a single voice channel is 64kbps, also the fact that voice traffic ( if going over tdm and not voip) is multiplexed into sdh most likely carried over dwdm/wdm. A single e1 ( 2 mb/s) carries up to 32 voice channels, there are 70 e1 worth of payload in an stm1 , which is 155 mb/sec. How are you going to monitor this many discrete ( and multiplexed, encoded ) signals at once? do you even realize how much traffic that is? don't forget that sizable portion of voice goes over data ntwks as voip, and you can have ip using bridged ethernet over sdh, ima over multiple e1, mpls, atm or directly on top of sdh ( short list, there are many more possibilties)... anyway, if you want to listen in, you'd better do it somewhere you can actually do something with that data. having said all that, i think this is a good low tech way to test their readiness....
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday February 03, 2008 @11:46AM (#22282760)
        If someone wants to tap a communication line, there are a hell of a lot of easier ways to doing it -- above water, no less -- than by having a single ship drop anchor off Egypt in bad weather, destroying precisely the two needed cables, drawing the attention of the entire world via both technical and mainstream press, and then sending a flotilla of repair vessels which are really part of a secret mission to tap the cables, while numerous non-US personnel involved in the cable raising, repair, and testing process all maintain complete secrecy.

        Wow, the conspiracy loons are really out for this one. Your "9/11 Truth" action meetings are starting to miss you, guys.
        • by LWATCDR (28044)
          This is not some theory buddy it is fact! It all started when they put fluoride in our water! Next came barcodes to track everything we buy. Then came RFID tags in our money so even if we pay cash we are tracked. Now they are going to put RFID tags in our clothes which will be the real mark of the beast.

          Yes I am kidding. I had to put that in because I just realized that I couldn't make up anything dumber than what I have read on the internet.
    • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @07:26AM (#22281404) Journal

      The question I have not seen posed yet. Who will benefit? Who will benefit of this outage?
      It's apparent from the article that statisticians and colored-chart advocates have benefited from this outage... if that helps.
    • From what?

      The already-confirmed fact that one clumsy ship can cut off internet access for 75 million people [guardian.co.uk] with one ill-advised drop of the anchor?

      So if you're implying the US is somehow behind this with your cutesy little message feigning ignorance, get a life.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by iminplaya (723125)
      Who could it be, I just don't know. Could it be... Satan??
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by GooberToo (74388)
      When I first heard about this only one thing popped into my head. I'm sure some will call me paranoid but those that do sound like idiots given the US's recurring history. This outage sounds exactly like a US military/CIA ploy to place snooping equipment inline. The US has a long history of doing exactly this, especially with the Russians. Sure, I may be wrong but once you consider those cables are well marked, the chances of them accidentally becoming broken are astronomically unlikely. The only likely sc
    • by mrbluze (1034940)
      One of the first acts of war in WWII by the Allies was the cutting of deep sea communications cables to Germany. Iran is still cut off from this service disruption, whereas Israel is not. Who knows if that has anything to do with this.
    • Pretty obvious, isn't it?

      http://www.internettrafficreport.com/asia.htm [internettr...report.com]

      Looks like Iran is the one loosing *all* internet access... a pure coincidence, I'm sure...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here is a good reason;
      Iran's euro-denominated (oil-exchange) will go live next week.

      Now tell me who is the worst hit country?
      • by mrbluze (1034940)

        Now tell me who is the worst hit country?
        Sadly I don't think the internet is the only thing about to be hit in Iran.
    • 1) Who will benefit from this communication disruption?

      Any business that sees the businesses in the Middle East and parts of South East Asia as direct competitors will be glad their competitors are having a rough time. Same is true for countries, and even guilds on some WoW servers (on my old server there was a 'Kuwaiti Elites' guild populated by *gasp* Kuwaitis).

      2) The Outage is Not Complete

      There is not one country that is entirely cut off. Traffic is slow as hell due to modern day loads being pus

  • True men of genius (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @07:11AM (#22281350)
    Study finds that countries with more international fibre links suffers less when one is cut.

    honestly, where do these idiots come from, and why does it get posted on /.

    • by ale_ryu (1102077)
      Yeah, besides, this is like the 5th article about the fibre cut in the last three days. It's becoming quite uninteresting...
      • by Dan541 (1032000)
        Its a slow news week.
        either that or ive been spending way to much time on /. this weekend.
    • Dude... i know it may sound redundant but i guess what the poster is trying to say that if a country like Pakistan (and i live in Karachi, Pakistan) can work almost unaffected (we did had an outage for 3-6 ours in some parts including our part of the city) how can India, which has the biggest outsourcing and call center businesses running can't do the same...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RealGrouchy (943109)

        if a country like Pakistan (and i live in Karachi, Pakistan) can work almost unaffected (we did had an outage for 3-6 ours in some parts including our part of the city) how can India, which has the biggest outsourcing and call center businesses running can't do the same...

        FTAS, it seems fairly clear that Pakistan has had a major outage before. So it would seem natural to conclude that Pakistan learned from Pakistan's outage, but India didn't.

        Now, India can perhaps add more lines, or it might decide that additional redundancy is not worth the expense, or isn't a priority.

        - RG>

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          While it is certainly true that India can use more fibre (The government, businesses et al. are notoriously slow on the uptake here - circa 10 years ago, the entire bandwidth in the country was under 1Mbps and tracerouting a local friend usually involved a trip to the US (MCI)), it is quite inaccurate to state that Indian Internet has been brought to a standstill. VSNL, the sole player until a few years ago is completely fine as it does not use any of the affected cables (FLAG, SEA-ME-WE) as it has its own
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      Study finds that countries with more international fibre links suffers less when one is cut.

      Science isn't only about measuring things we don't think we understand. It's also about measuring things we think we do understand, and seeing if we actually do.

  • I also think we have to invent a new award for the ugliest plots ever seen.. Jeez!
  • by Paktu (1103861) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @08:27AM (#22281614)
    I'm posting this from Dubai- near Media City/Internet City for those who are familiar. Certain sites seem to work pretty well- Fark for some reason loads very quickly. Other sites (including Slashdot) are about as fast as AOL in 1994. Speeds seem to not always correlate to usage levels; around noon it's usually not terrible but late at night browsing is almost impossible. Anyone else care to share their own observations?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In Dubai at the moment. I'm using the Etisalat ADSL connection. I believe the Internet City region is routed differently. As I recall, internet usage there was unaffected the last time we had a damaged cable.

      Slashdot speeds seem to be the same as ever for me. On the other hand, my WoW latency went from 500ms to...well...to some very strange behavior. When I log in, it's at 300ms...and slowly over 5 minutes, it builds up to something like 5000ms, and then disconnects me.

      Filesharing over Gnutella2 is down to
    • What are the stock market traders saying there? Has this had an impact at all?
      • by Paktu (1103861)
        I haven't heard/read about any actual complaints from traders, it's all speculation that this "might" affect their operations. My hunch is that the more critical stuff like this is getting priority, while the rest of us share the very limited remaining bandwidth.
        • Thanks for the answer! I was just suspicious of three "cuts" in a row during this time of both geopolitical uncertainty and also some rather severe market pressure. There appears to be gathering forces there to detach the various local currencies from a strict dollar peg and go to a bundled basket of currencies.
    • by yahyamf (751776)
      I'm also near Media City, which is in the free zones, and generally has better Internet service.

      Outside the zones, from my home ping times are over 1100ms to my server in the US. I'm running asterisk with the speex codec. It performs remarkably well despite the lag.

      They've also blocked all ports except the web, email, ssh and a few others. Bittorent, and other p2p software isn't working. Youtube wasn't working yesterday, but it is today.

  • Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rindeee (530084) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @08:47AM (#22281702)
    The conspiracy theorists are coming out of the woodwork on this one. It's an anchor drag folks. The last thing any 'conspirator' wants is comms to be cut off. Quite the opposite in fact.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by yahyamf (751776)
      An anchor drag accross two cables in the Mediterranean is quite plausible, but what about the third one off the coast of Dubai in less than a week? That's not even the same sea.

      It might just be a cover up for incompetency. but I don't buy the three accidental anchor drags story.

      There were similar outages due to supposedly broken cables a year (or two?) ago in the Indian ocean, which affected UAE Internet services. Those cables were dozens of kilometers apart too.

      • An anchor drag accross two cables in the Mediterranean is quite plausible, but what about the third one off the coast of Dubai in less than a week? That's not even the same sea.

        Gambler's fallacy. A random event happening does not affect the future probability of the random event happening. And why would it be in the same sea? We're talking about separate ships here.

        It might just be a cover up for incompetency. but I don't buy the three accidental anchor drags story.

        Two. Two anchor drags.

        There were similar outages due to supposedly broken cables a year (or two?) ago in the Indian ocean, which affected UAE Internet services. Those cables were dozens of kilometers apart too.

        The cables in the Mediterranean were only a few hundred meters apart near the shore where they were cut. They're only sending one ship to fix both.

    • by mrbluze (1034940)
      There were no ships in the area [abc.net.au] when the cables were disrupted. Conspiracy theories are of course just theories, but you are a fool if you accept everything you hear and read at face value.
    • The Egyptians are now saying they had onshore cameras viewing the area of the cut, which apparently was close to shore. They say no ships transited that area during the time of the cut. They also say that area is a "no-go" zone for ships - whose charts would identify the presence of the cable.

      Of course, that still leaves smuggler ships or whatever. We don't know if the cut was in a portion of the cable suspended closer to the surface, which is more vulnerable than cables nearer the ocean floor.

      But as of now
  • SEAMEWE? (Score:5, Funny)

    by theskipper (461997) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @09:05AM (#22281768)
    What a coincidence, last night I met a girl in an AOL chatroom with the exact same name.

  • ...has led to blockages in http://www.google.com/tisp/ [google.com] that seem immune to data-flushing.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @09:27AM (#22281880)
    What's interesting to see from all of this is that most of the american east-coast cables terminate in NY (OK, probably not all at exactly the same spot, but with enough concentration to cause concern). We have seen the effect of a couple of accidental cable cuts in widely different places. Imagine what would happen if a ship accidentally dragged it's anchor across a proportion of the cables coming into New York, especially the fat ones. Now imagine if it wasn't an accident and there was more than 1 ship involved....

    When I was doing work on resilient architectures for companies, we were always telling then to install redundant and diverse cables, so 1 accident wouldn't chop all their connections.

    It looks like this lesson has not been fully learned.

    • by anticypher (48312) <anticypher@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday February 03, 2008 @11:17AM (#22282554) Homepage
      Your ignorance stems from lack of knowledge, because you aren't looking at real maps, just some graphics made by someone with absolutely no knowledge of the topic who had to make something, by deadline. The telegeography maps are the worst, it's as if they've gone to great lengths to get it as wrong as possible.

      There are at least 60 separate landing spots on the east coast of north america, from Miami up into Newfoundland. All those cables that look like they go to NY actually land at various spots on long island and in NJ, but then get hauled overland into the data centers in the NY area.

      There is as much redundancy and diversity as could be engineered in, given the budget constraints that the fibre system has to some day earn a profit. Undersea topography plays a big part as well, certain parts of the ocean just can't be used to safely lay fibre upon. There is also a need to avoid busy ports and shipping lanes. All taken into consideration when financing a US$1Billion cable.

      I already posted in a previous thread about the Suez Canal, where many /.ers thought the fibres went along the bottom of the canal, because that is what some low-res graphics seemed to show. The reality is all the fibres that hit Egypt do so away from Suez, travel overland, then hit the Red Sea at various diverse points. It is much easier and cheaper to put in overland fibre systems, and certainly easier to maintain by sending a truck full of engineers out rather than wait for a repair ship to be scheduled. Undersea fibres are also much cheaper for shorter hauls with more landings, because of all the power requirements for repeaters.

      the AC
      • It is much easier and cheaper to put in overland fibre systems, and certainly easier to maintain by sending a truck full of engineers out rather than wait for a repair ship to be scheduled. Undersea fibres are also much cheaper for shorter hauls with more landings, because of all the power requirements for repeaters.

        Does that last sentence say what you meant it to say? That in the short haul, underwater cables are cheaper than landed one? Just curious because it would seem backwards, especially as layin

        • Makes sense an underwater cable just lays on the bottom so it's cheaper as long as you don't need repeaters that have to be powered underwater, land-based cables have to be either buried or set up in poles so they are more expensive to install but it's easier and cheaper to get power to the repeaters, that are themselves cheaper because they don't have to be waterproof only weather-proof; somewhere the expense curve cross.
          • by anticypher (48312) <anticypher@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday February 03, 2008 @07:06PM (#22286122) Homepage
            Yeah, those last two sentences don't stand on their own. They are two separate things, each needs more explanation.

            Over land, rights of way can be quite expensive. Under sea, once away from a coastline, a fibre doesn't require any property rights payments.

            Over land, fibre runs are not very well protected in some areas, often attracting the evil backhoe or other dangerous mechanica. What makes fibre on land cheap is the ability to put in easily to maintain repeaters and dispersion compensators, and electricity can be obtained locally. Repairs are also relatively cheap and rapid.

            Under water and once away from the immediate coastline, there isn't much dangerous to fibres except boat anchors, and the occasional earthquake caused rockfall. Fibre runs, still need active electronics every 80 to 300 Kms to boost the signal, shape it, or compensate for dispersion. To power electronics far away out to sea, the only place to put electricity is at the landing point. The longest Pacific Ocean fibres require something like 25,000 volts at 10 amps from each end to power the most distant repeaters. That means the first sections of a fibre support cladding need to carry huge currents and have large dielectrics to prevent arc-overs.

            If you can build additional landing points to provide electricity, you can build cheaper fibres. With the most recent advances in optic fibre quality, a run up to 200 Kms doesn't even need repeaters, some manufacturers are claiming 320 Kms without a repeater with the most modern optics powering the signal. That makes short run underwater fibres about the same cost with less risks of cuts.

            the AC
  • Not everyone is suffering from this outage. Looking at the throughput map, we can see that Iran and China have increased (2x) their throughputs. I presume this can be explained by the fact they don't share the surviving lines anymore.
  • Man o man, geography must be a really hard subject
  • Am I the only one that finds it funny to find a blurb that mentions the Mediterranean Sea and lists countries like India and Pakistan?
    • Am I the only one that finds it funny to find a blurb that mentions the Mediterranean Sea and lists countries like India and Pakistan?
      This is a site from the US of A, so, yeah, no one else noticed ;-)
    • by Velocir (851555)
      Yeah I noticed it too, but I'm from NZ. It's also strange considering the previous stories were talking about the Middle East, which is obviously also distinct from both the Mediterranean and countries like Pakistan and India. Americans are so funny sometimes :P
    • by dbIII (701233)
      The was another story last night that apparently gave India an Atlantic coast, and now it has a Mediterranean coast. Obviously global warming is having a faster effect than we expected :)

      To be serious there is a flow on effect and these cables are long. A backhoe near Seattle cut most of Australia off the net just a month or two ago.

  • Does anyone know what routing protocols these sites would be running?

    I'm guessing BGP, but if that is the case, is this indicative of a failure to properly implement it? Or would this be the expected behavior from a well engineered network under these circumstances?
  • NATO troops in Pakistan and Afganistan need bandwidth for Skype and porn.
    • My son just got back from Iraq, they all chipped in and got a satellite dish, and wired the billets with Ethernet cable; the dish aimed 13 degrees above the horizon. If they needed to talk they just used a cellphone like everyone else. Afghanistan is a bit more rustic but not as much as you'd think.
  • I've seen a lot of government conspiracies, but this one is so odvous. We all know our government LOVES to spy, so what would stop the NSA from deciding it's legal to watch everything everyone else is doing?

    I still believe the NSA broke the cable when they pulled up in their subs to drill into the cable and watch all the data going through

    Was that "ship" that allegedly broke the cable ever named? No? So how does anyone confirm that the ship really did it? It's the government's fault!
    • Well they would need to pick the cable up to tap it and perhaps the extreme weather, divine intervention stopped them. If they were going to tap it then they would need to feed the data to something? What and how would they do this? I doubt they layed another fiber cable. Would it not make more sense to tap it where it meets the land, where it is already probably tapped? What if the intention was to demonstrate that they could be cut off from the world or to see how it would affect them?
  • I would think that it could just coincidence, as in something not orchestrated by men.

    But we all know there are no accidents in an intelligent universe.

    As for the possibility that it was an effort coordinated by some government intelligence agency or group I would rate it that probability very low.

    It could be due to extreme weather which is altering ship behavior in the region.

    However this low probability incident occurring in a set of three with such a close proximity in time is against random

  • Who's suffering most? Wealthy kids in those regions who can no longer connect to Blizzard and play WoW.

    Imagine the chaos that would ensue if South Korea had all of its connections (or a fair amount of them) severed. On the one hand, I'm sure productivity would be hampered by their network speeds slowing down dramatically (if the fair amount), or completely (if all were severed.) On the othe hand, I'm sure there would be a giant spike in non-computer activities as Starcraft servers see their workloads dr
  • I live on a small island off Japan & although I have a 100Mbps optic-fiber internet connection, my real world speed is about 25Mbps. It's been consistently so since I signed up almost 1 year ago. However, the past few days have revealed a remarkable upturn, I now get a steady 65Mbps. Coincidence?
  • The effect of the fibre outage will be mass constipation!

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

Working...