Damaged sea cable sinks Net links

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Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Damaged cable sinks Net links

The SEA-ME-WE 3 communications cable which links Europe, Asia and Australia was damaged on the sea floor near Singapore around 5.20pm, severely disrupting local Internet access.

Telstra spokesman Mr Richard O'Connell said Internet access had been affected in Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the UK and the US.

At 7pm Australia's Internet was working at just over 30 per cent capacity, meaning around two-thirds of Australian Internet users experienced slow or non-existent Internet access.

Australia has several other connections to the Internet, but SEA-ME-WE-3 is by far the biggest. The other connections were unable to cope with the redirected demand.

Australian Internet users built up an increasing backlog of requests for international Web pages, which caused the already congested system to slow down further.

The cause of the damage, which occurred about 100 kilometres from Singapore on the ocean floor, could not be identified last night. Possible causes include a ship's anchor or minor earthquake.

Mr O'Connell said he could not confirm how long repairs on SEA-ME-WE-3 would take.

Ninety-three telecommunications companies around the world are involved in the $1.7 billion SEA-ME-WE-3 cable system, including Australia's Telstra, AAPT and Optus. The cable is one of the longest and fastest intercontinental cables in the world. It was set up two years ago to speed up Internet access in the countries it connected.

Its handful of optical fibres can transfer 20 gigabits of information every second - equal to about 5,000 medium-length novels, 500,000 simultaneous phone chats or a million pages of email.

Australia's link to SEA-ME-WE 3 runs out from a small manhole in the dunes behind Floreat Beach in Western Australia.

The West Australian


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), November 20, 2000

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