Four major cables are down as we speak — I-Me-We, Sea-Me-We-4, EIG and TE North affecting a huge portion of the traffic transiting to the Middle East and Asia.
And the proposed new cable AAE-1 is supposed to get 2 fiber pairs on TE North when it is financed. Telecom Egypt’s financial calculations may be astute but carriers have to think about route diversity very closely. TE North also has sold fiber pairs to SEACOM, Alexandros and TGN-Eurasia — all of whom obviously are down. One of the carriers who owns bandwidth on most of the cables told me that as far as he is concerned, only Flag is up. Everything else is down and he has shifted all of his traffic through the Pacific and then through Japan and Singapore — so bye bye latency. One of the carriers has reportedly shifted 400 Gbps of traffic to the Pacific route.
It’s not good enough to say since you have 10 cables even if going through Egypt, you have route diversity. First of all, all of those cables will most likely be on the same military-designated route in Egypt from Abu Talaat to Zafarana. And as today’s 4 cable cuts have demonstrated, any time the cables are along similar paths, there is a high likelihood that all of them might be cut at the same time. Also, from a terrorism perspective, if the cable stations in Abu Talaat and/or Zafarana are blown up, half of the world’s Internet will be down.
Egypt has become the Internet’s worst physical “single point of failure”. Almost all of the Europe to Asia transits through Egypt. This is a time bomb waiting to explode. And Egypt is not the only pain point. The entire current route between Europe and Asia is fraught with major problems. In fact, the I-Me-We cable is down west of India,
It is even more of an urgent need to build the Freedom Cable which has a completely diverse path compared to any other cable. Neither does it land in Egypt nor does it have a full landing in Singapore. It is the only recent cable to go through Thailand where the shipping hazards are negligible compared to the heavy shipping activity in Singapore.
And this is during peace times when there is no issue of getting ships to the repair zones. Imagine a situation in Egypt, if there is political tension, as has recently been the case, it will be almost impossible to repair 4 cables at the same time. I have been trying to figure out the gravity of the situation and I have heard a rumor about a sub-standard maintenance ship that is unable to repair the cables.
There is an urgent need to build the Freedom Cable that has a totally diverse path compared to every cable coming out of Egypt. One day, it could be the saving grace if God forbid, something happens in Egypt.
If we already have 10 cables through Egypt, we need at least one cable with a completely diverse path that does not touch Egypt.