Subsea cable break slows Asian web

A subsea cable outage in Southeast Asia has prompted analysts to note the central but under-appreciated roles undersea cable networks play in global commerce.

On Wednesday, reports came in of multiple undersea cable breaks in deep water around Southeast Asia, which is thought to be most likely due to undersea earthquakes.

Matt Walker, principal analyst with Ovum, said that these issues will likely be resolved over the next few days. But given that there is no single authority managing or monitoring the world’s undersea cable networks, uncertainty is inevitable, and it takes time to learn the hard facts.

“The real story here may be how much progress Asia’s international network connectivity has made in just the last few years,” Walker said. “With the installation of the Transpacific Express, the Asia America Gateway, several smaller intra-Asia projects and cables linking Europe and Asia through India and the Middle East (not all complete), the region’s cable systems are now much more meshed and resilient, and less prone to catastrophic failures.”

But with progress comes higher expectations and this latest outage is expected to teach lessons on how to improve performance going forward.

Singaporean carrier StarHub posted a message Wednesday saying that its undersea capacity supplier had notified the operator of a disruption to its undersea cable, which was causing slow access to some overseas websites.

In related news, Nortel, with its dying breath, managed to announced a product line targeted at subsea cable operators, allowing them to upgrade their networks to 40Gbps speeds.

The Canadian vendor said that as the world becomes more connected across countries, continents and cultures, the submarine networks that carry that network traffic beneath seas and oceans are increasingly nearing full capacity.

For networks up to 450km, Nortel has teamed with MPB Communications to enable carriers to upgrade their networks to 40Gbps speeds without the need to deploy optical signal amplifiers or repeaters along the sea floor.

Where a submarine link is required for longer distances, Nortel’s 40G platform can be used with underwater repeaters.

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