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Sun 3 Feb 2008 01:02 PM

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Two weeks of net disruption - Etisalat

UAE telecom says it has been informed damaged undersea cable could take up to two weeks to repair.

UAE businesses and residents face up to two weeks of internet and international call disruption after undersea cables in the Mediterranean Sea were damaged late last week, Etisalat said on Sunday.

The telecom said it had been informed by Flag Telecom, which operates one of the two damaged cables, that the problem should be fixed in two weeks, while the operator of the other cable planned to carry out repairs on February 8.

Flag said on Saturday a ship should reach the cable repair ground by February 5.

Parts of the Gulf Arab region were plunged into an internet blackout on Wednesday when two undersea cables were cut near Alexandria, on Egypt’s north coast.

The initial breaches were in segments of two intercontinental cables known as Sea-ME-We-4 and Flag Europe-Asia.

The situation was made worse on Friday when Flag, part of India's Reliance Communications, revealed a third cable, Falcon, had also been damaged off the UAE coast.

Etisalat said on Saturday that it did not use the third cable and was therefore not affected, however the UAE's second telecom Du warned the new cut could hamper efforts to restore services hit by the earlier damage.

Etisalat said on Sunday it was helping Du minimise disruption to customers.

Flag said that a repair ship was expected to arrive at the location of the third damaged cable in the next few days, but so far bad weather has prevented the vessel from setting off from Abu Dhabi port.

The third cable is located 56 kilometres from Dubai on a segment between the UAE and Oman.

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