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Mon 4 Feb 2008 08:09 PM

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UAE unaffected by fourth internet cable break

Emirati telecoms say damaged cable off UAE coast not causing further disruption.

UAE telecoms Etisalat and Du said on Monday they have not been affected by the second undersea cable damaged off the UAE coast that caused massive disruption to internet services in Qatar over the weekend.

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) said on Sunday a cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday, the fourth reported in the Middle East in less than a week.

RELATED: Internet problems continue with fourth cable break

The damage caused major problems for internet users in the Gulf Arab state, but Qtel's loss of capacity has been kept below 40% thanks to what the telecom said was a large number of alternative routes for transmission.

"Etisalat is not affected by the most recent cut," a spokesperson told ArabianBusiness.com.

"We has not been affected by this at all," a Du spokesperson added.

The cause of damage is not yet known, but ArabianBusiness.com has been told unofficially the problem is power related and not the result of a ship's anchor cutting the cable, as is thought to be the case in the other three incidents.

It is expected to take at least "a few days" to fix, according to one person with knowledge of the situation.

It had been feared the damaged cable would further disrupt UAE internet services.

Parts of the Gulf Arab region were plunged into a virtual 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 it does not use the Falcon cable and is therefore unaffected, but Du had warned the damage could hamper its efforts to restore normal service to customers.

Du said on Monday that its internet and telephone services were now largely back to normal.

"Our internet access is almost back to normal... and data services are 100% restored," Mahesh Jaishankar, executive director for business development and marketing, told reporters.

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