By Tom Arnold
Telecoms company says web connections back to normal after damage to cables.
Internet services in Qatar have been restored to full capacity following damage caused to three undersea cables last month, telecommunications operator Qatar Telecom (Qtel) announced on Monday.
In a report on the issue, the provider said safety measures it introduced in 2008 helped ensure disruption from the breach was kept to a minimum.
Internet services were disrupted on December 19 when damage was caused to three undersea cables located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, which are estimated to carry 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America.
But loss of capacity in Qatar was kept below 47 percent, Qtel said, because its network of alternative transmission routes and back-up cables ensured that Qatar remained connected. It said Qtel’s built-in safety margin of 20 percent spare capacity ensured the traffic impact overall was less than 27 percent.
During 2008 Qtel said it positioned itself so that there was an even split between data sent via Western-running cables, such as the affected cables in the Mediterranean, and via Eastern-running cables, through Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
The firm said this meant it was able to begin routing all data via the Eastern-running cables within six hours of the first break being reported.
In addition, Qtel maintained regular contact with the team responsible for the cable ship charged with repairing the breach.
The first cable, Sea Me We 4, which carries a significant volume of data for Qatar, was repaired by France Télécom on December 25, restoring 70 percent of potential capacity to Qatar. The cable broke again in a different location on the same day, offshore from Alexandria, Egypt, and the team had to travel to repair the new break.
The second cable, FLAG, was fixed on December 31, restoring 81 percent of capacity to Qatar, while the second breach on Sea Me We 4 was repaired on January 4, restoring Qatar to 100 percent internet capacity.
The third and final cable, Sea Me We 3, was reported as being repaired on Monday, although this cable does not carry any data for Qatar.