More and more news outlets are starting to pick up on the story of the recently damaged submarine cables. Information about the damages to the cables has been garbled and determining those basic necessities of (responsible) reporting has become difficult. Who, what, where and when? Reports of the numbers of cables affected are now ranging from 5 cuts to 9 cuts. Most major news outlets are sitting in the 4-5 range while others (usually a bit more independent) are playing in the higher numbers. There are acronyms a plenty and information strewn from message boards to major news sources.

As a concerned citizen I found that it was very important to trace these stories to their sources and do my best to give you the most accurate information on what appears to have happened in the past couple of weeks underneath the waters covering most of this planet we call home.

I hope that I can help to shed some light on this subject and help to ease rumors and misinformation that seems to run rampant when events like this occur. So, in good reporting fashion, we will split up the cable crisis into an easy to understand format which will, (hopefully) help for those of you still swimming through the mess that has been made.


There have been a number of reports with estimates of the number of people affected. The following table provides some of those numbers. Just click on the number for the source:

India 60,000,000
Pakistan 12,000,000
Egypt 6,000,000
Saudi Arabia 4,700,000
Iran 4,000,000
United Arab Emirates 1,700,000
Algeria 1,000,000
Sudan 1,000,000
Lebanon 400,000
Syria 300,000
Total 91,100,000
Countries also affected Bahrain, Bangladesh, Maldives

Renysys.com has offered some excellent technical information into the countries affected by the Mediterranean cable breaks. Who is Renysys? From their website:

“Our optimized algorithms gather real-time data from the Internet backbone, around-the-clock. We analyze the major Internet transit providers and compile objective, comprehensive information into real-world statistics on regional trends and route selection in the retail, wholesale, and backbone markets.”

You can check additional technical information by visiting their blog and looking in their archives.


The submarine cables, that you are probably aware of by now, are communications lines which help transfer data, such as: voice, internet & multimedia, long distances underneath the seas and oceans covering this planet. Laying these cables is no small task. The amount of cable required and the sheer size and weight of the cables call for some of the larger ships on the sea. This is a photo from Wikipedia of the René Descartes (though examples of other ships can be found here and here):

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The maelstrom of stories falling around the internet are all about damages that have occurred along the cables. There have been a range of speculations as to how the cables may have been damaged. These speculations range from collision with anchors by ships in a storm, to international conflicts.

There are three major submarine cables that have been damaged. The cables can be easily confused given the spread out nature of the news sources of the internet and the number of acronyms that there are. Here are the three cables, along with the links to the official websites, in question:

  • SEA-ME-WE 4: the “South East-Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4“. This cable stretches from France to Malaysia.

  • (larger here)
  • FALCON: the “Flag Acatel-Lucent Optical Network.” This cable stretches from the tip of the Suez canal in Egypt, around into the Persian Gulf, across the Indian Ocean, and down to Malaysia.

    (larger here)
  • FEA: the “Flag Europe Asia“. This cable stretches from Europe all the way to the Eastern side of Asia.

    (larger here)

These are the cables that were damaged in just a few days. Repairing the cables can take weeks. In 2006 we were privy to an unfortunate example of how these cables can be damaged when the country of Taiwan was shocked by the highly destructive Hengchun earthquake, and the aftershocks that followed. Some sources have, unfortunately, pointed to this as an example of just how often underwater cables are damaged. Alcatel-Lucent has a pretty good animation of the repair process (they are also the source for the maps on this page):

No major natural disaster can be blamed for the recent internet outages — though there are those who have attributed the damages to ships dragging their anchors along the bottom of the oceans in inclement weather (not a disaster, albeit natural).

When & Where

As far as this author can tell, there have been 9 cuts that have been reported on, at least, three different days.

  1. Day 1 – January 23rd, 2008 – 1st cut – FALCON near Bandar Abbas, Iran

    Bijal Sanghani, the Sr. IP Technical Support Engineer of the Technical Services Group of FLAG Telecom wrote, in an repair schedule e-mail, that there were damages on both of the FALCON cables leaving Bandar Abbas, Iran. One was listed as February 1st. This is the other:

    “FALCON Segment 7b (Bandra Abbas – Al Seeb) – E-Marine continues to await the permit to enter the Iranian waters and current forecast for the ship to start a work is around 19th February.”

    The Khaleej Times also reports that Mahesh Jaishanker, an executive director in business development and marketing for du (a telecom company in the United Arab Emirates) said that:

    “The first cut in the undersea Internet cable occurred on January 23, in the Flag Telcoms FALCON submarine cable which was not reported. This has not been repaired yet and the cause remains unknown, explained Jaishanker.”

    (larger here)

    David Vorster, a forecaster from Gulfnews said of the weather on the 23rd:

    “”The weather is nothing much to write about,” […] adding that the conditions are normal for this time of the year.”

  2. Day 2 – January 30th – 2nd, 3rd & 4th Cuts – SEA-ME-WE 4 and FEA in the Mediterranean

    Although the times for the cuts were not recorded, the data from Renesys recorded major events occurring in the Mediterranean area at (UTC) 4:30am, 6:00am and 8:00am with another event (quite possibly re-routing) occurring at 13:00pm:

    (larger here)

    The owners of the cables only reported the damages outside of Alexandria, Egypt. However, the New York Times reported that telecommunications officers stated a cable was damaged

    “…in the waters off Marseille, France.”

    This corresponds with the spokesman for Flag Telecom who, speaking on the Alexandria damages, told The Register:

    “One of the ship’s anchors cut our cable but there are multiple cuts – we’re not the only company having problems.”

    (larger here)

    The cut outside of Marseille would also explain the loss of connection experienced in Algeria, across the Mediterranean, from France.

    The other two cuts were outside of Alexandria, Egypt. Flag Telecom acknowledged FEA was damaged 8.3km off the coast. The second, SEA-ME-WE 4, was reported damaged 25km off the coast by the Associated Press Pakistan and written about at Netxpress Online.

    (larger here)
  3. Day 3 – February 1st, 2008 – 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Cuts – FALCON (& possibly FEA) in the Suez Canal and the Persian Gulf

    Cut number 5, in the Persian Gulf, was reported by Qatar Telecom. It was reported to be between Haloul Island, Qatar and Omas Das Island, UAE. Cut number 6 was reported on the link that connects Dubai, UAE with Oman. It was said that this one was 56km off of the coast of Dubai.

    (larger here)

    Cut number 7 was reported by a Flag official who did not want to be named. They told Zaywa Dow Jones that there was a cut on a

    “…fibre optic cable running through the Suez to Sri Lanka [on] Friday.”

    The only Flag line that runs from the Suez out towards Sri Lanka is Flag Europe Asia. However, the article says that the official was talking about FALCON (which does not run to Sri Lanka, but does run out the Suez Canal). Therefore, it is safe to say that either FEA or FALCON was the cable they were talking about:

    (larger here)

    Cut number 8 was back at Bandar-Abbas Iran. This time, it was on the other segment of the FALCON cable as reported by the same repair email from earlier:

    “FALCON Segment 7a – Fault 1st February between BND (Bandar Abbas, Iran) and KWI (Kuwait), we are waiting for ship to go out and it maybe fixed before going out the fault on 7b – to be confirmed.”

    (larger here)
  4. Reported February 5th9th Cut – FEA near Penang, Malaysia

    The last cut does not have an accurate date associated with it. However, it was reported along with the other cuts that occurred on February 1st. This particular cut was 28km out from Penang, Malaysia. It was first reported in the Khaleej Times:

    “These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia…”

    The damage was also reported in the repair email that was sent by Flag:

    “FEA Segment M – The cable ship CS Asean Restorer has been booked for this repair. It is currently out on an APCN repair and with current plan will be ready to start any work on our cable on or after 11th Feb. We have the OTDR traces from Penang and see that the fault is around 28km out from the station.”

    (larger here)

    The Asean Restorer was also out near that area repairing submarine cables in September and November of 2007.

Well, there you have it: the most complete guide to the 2008 internet outage available. I hope that this article was successful in helpful you understand the submarine cables mess that has been created on the internet. Now if only we could get the “Why” portion of this guide completed. At least now you have the facts. Maybe now, others can start working on why this may have occurred.

If you liked this post, be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed and check out my other posts on the subject as well.

Images, Misc

[UPDATE – 02/12/08 – The Complete Guide to the 2008 Internet Outage has been finished. It contains the most up to date information including detailed images and explanations to help unravel this cable mess. Please check it out here]

I find it humorous that the recent cable cuttings have caused another, yet another divide that we are more commonly seeing on the internet: those that “wear the foil hats” and those that don’t. While I understand where the stereotype comes from–

–I think, on the internet, it has taken on a whole new meaning. Case in point: here’s a Wikipedia article on the subject.

[UPDATE: now there is even a Wikipedia article discussing the ‘conspiracy theories’ surrounding the submarine cable damages as well.]

Even though we jest about it and throw about the term lightly, there are those in the world who believe to the bottom of their soul that they are keeping themselves safe by adorning such a hat. These people are usually a bit psychotic and often exhibit symptoms of dementia praecox.

As a person who has been unfairly grouped into this stereotypical association which exists between “conspiracy theorists” (man, that sounds spooky) and the mentally ill, let me step forward and say:

“I am not (that) crazy.”

In a world where the word ‘conspiracy’ is tossed at someone the moment they try to make an argument, it appears, at least to this author, that we setting ourselves up for failure. Isn’t it healthy and constructive to question the world around you in search of complete understanding of a particular subject?

As the internet grows exponentially greater in mass along with the human race, we are going to be faced with an world that will be growing ever smaller. It may be sooner than we think when neighborhoods, are filled to the breaking point, with humans reproducing in the closest of quarters.

We may find ourselves in a society where paranoia of even those who are close in proximity to you becomes a necessity for survival instead of the words of a “few crazy individuals.” When people are at war with one another for territory the size of a city block.

When I was in school, I learned how to ask questions and find answers. This fundamental skill grew within me from grade school through college. Yet, for some reason, those, who are considered educated among us, are able to ridicule and choose to otherwise ignore our questions whenever we start to ask. I am lucky that I work in a place which allows me to have open conversations with my peers about the world around us. I am lucky that the woman that I am in a relationship with allows me to have a similar environment in my home.

I encourage anyone reading this to try and make your life, your workplace, and your home, a similar place. Try to surround yourself with people who encourage critical thinking and who don’t take everything at face value.

I have tried to introduce evidence which may help to explain the recent events which have turned into a veritable “Cablecut-gate” that has gripped the web. Yet, there are still those who choose the simpler way out.

There will always be people who are willing to accept the simpler answer and go on with their lives. There are even those in the aforementioned group that will go to great lengths to prove their simple truth. Whether it be through books, photos, sound bytes, or even quotes from their favorite puppet on Fox and Friends (sorry, I had to), there will also be those of us who have an undying desire to search for truth and understanding in the events which shape the world around us.

If you happen to agree with me, or you’re into what is apparently the “tin-foil hat crowd,” then please read my previous posts on the subject.

…and so:

I will batten down the hatches and pull the rubber-band of my tinfoil hat down to snap against the bottom of my chin. Because I, for one, refuse to believe that this is what could have possibly occurred:


[UPDATE] – It has been reported that Ms. Gillman won. The court went on to decide that:

“…the school board and Principal David Davis [are] to notify students in writing that they had the right to express their support for equal treatment of gays in an appropriate and non-disruptive way.

However, the principal, David Davis has apparently not gotten the message:

“Principal Davis would not go on camera. He did say he’s disappointed in the judges’ decision, but he will abide by that ruling.”

[UPDATE] – A thanks to the readers for pointing out that the information within this article was wrong. At the time of the writing (February of 2008), the sources of information about this story had indicated that Heather Gillman was a gay student. This is not the case. As it turns out, Ms. Gillman, who is involved in the ACLU case was not, in fact, homosexual, but a supporter of gay rights in her school.

In addition, I would like everyone to know that no harm was ever meant towards the school, the students within this post, or to the community surrounding Ponce de Leon high school. It is horrible to think that a school (students, faculty, parents, administrators, etc.) would possibly stand behind a principal who so terribly handled a delicate situation with such intolerance and stupidity. Yet, the school still proudly lists Mr. Davis as their principal on their website.

It should also be noted that those (proclaiming their closeness to the school) who have the ability to actually do something about the problem, have taken the time to attack the writer of an article who was simply trying to bring the story to the attention of the major news outlets.

Perhaps you should consider using the time to change the school in your community and the administrator responsible.

It has been reported recently in a number of places around the internet, that there has recently been a scandal at Ponce de Leon High School located just south of Alabama in between Pensacola and Tallahassee in Florida:

(more info on the small town here)

The scandal involves a lawsuit that the ACLU has filed against the school primarily for the actions of the principal: David Davis. (davisd@hdsb.org)

While other sites and news outlets have thoroughly covered the actual scandal, there are a few things that they have missed in the process. However, just to get you up to speed, I’ll give you a brief rundown.

First of all, here’s a picture of the person at the front of the case, Heather Gillman, standing out in front of her school:

She was suspended for 5 days from her high school. Her crimes? Being openly supportive of gay rights and reporting troubles associated with it to a school administrator started the ball rolling. Then, when Davis called for a “morality assembly,” (where a religious preacher was apparently invited) Heather Gillman, along with some other students, spoke of possibly walking out of the assembly in protest. However, they did not, and instead started to wear pro-gay symbols such as the rainbow. The principal eventually decided that her and her friends were distracting other students and acting in a way that might be construed as being a part of a secret society or gang and decided that suspension was the best decision.

I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

As if this story wasn’t bad enough… according to Florida Department of Education, Division of Public Schools’ Bureau of School Improvements (man that’s a long-winded title for an organization) School Improvement Plan for Ponce de Leon:

“Mr. David Davis is the principal at Ponce de Leon High School. This is his first full year as principal. He has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, K-12. Mr. Todd Jones is our assistant principal. This is his first full year as our assistant principal. He, also, has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership.”

So, we’ve got two principals both in their first full year of being a principal. But wait, according to them, they are:

“…outstanding leaders of our school…supportive of teachers’ needs, and they listen to teachers’ and students’ concerns.”

Unless, of course, you’re gay. That’s right. When students approached David Davis to complain about harassment received from students and faculty, he was quoted as saying:

“Well, you shouldn’t be gay.”

Way to listen to the concerns of your students.

Alright, I’m willing to play devil’s advocate. Maybe it isn’t their fault. Maybe the school has something to do with it and we can’t blame these first-year administrators. Let’s take a look at the school website to see if maybe we can figure out where these guys are coming from.

Let’s see here, well, we know the school doesn’t hate women. Because they are very careful to make sure that their most recent “Young Miss Ponce de Leon” is posted in their photos section. Maybe the mascot is a truck driver or a conservative leader or something. Oh wait… nope:

Alright then I guess it isn’t the normal views of the school to be against women, and they don’t have a mascot breathing outdated ideals down their neck. Well, it must be in the goals of the school to promote such ignorance and hatred. Let’s take a look at their map to success on their beliefs page:

“The staff at Ponce de Leon High School believes:”

“Students should successfully compete at the highest levels and should be prepared to make well-reasoned and thoughtful decisions.”

Yes, Mr. Davis: telling someone they shouldn’t be who they are is definitely setting them up to make well-reasoned and thoughtful decisions.

“The learning environment should be conducive to teaching and learning.”

But if you are gay, and your learning environment is being distracted from, you should definitely not report it to an administrator. You should just stop being gay.

“The environment should protect health, safety, and civil rights…The development of the “whole child” should be evident in the activities and instruction provided.”

I guess since the principal doesn’t technically provide instruction, he is exempt from this. Oh, and inviting religious leaders to come speak at school assemblies is definitely how I would see my children becoming a “whole child.”

“[they] visualize literate students who are seekers of meaning and knowledge and are using this knowledge to satisfy their curiosity about life’s complexities as they explore.”

But homosexuality is a bit too complex. Let’s just keep it to penis and vagina okay?

“As these students progress through the educational process, they will recognize their responsibility for changing conditions detrimental to human development, opportunity, and community. They will promote equity, tolerance, understanding, and acceptance of all people.”

Yes, and they will be taught that changing their own human condition, to fit the development, opportunity and community of Ponce de Leon can only be done through fear and ignorance.

But perhaps, the very best gem from this facility of hypocrisy comes from their self-professed mission statement. As a former educator, I know the importance that mission statement holds in a school. An educational mission statement is there to be the ultimate statement by which the faculty, and staff can look to for guidance in helping the young minds that they are responsible for.

Before I leave you with the final gem, I would like to offer some advice to those out there who are as outraged as I am about this. Recently a post hit the front page of the popular news site reddit which linked to the faculty website stating “Here are the email addresses for the staff at the school where the girl was suspended for being a lesbian. The principal is David Davis. Tell him to resign and to publicly apologize.”

Contacting the school to complain about the school is like sending an email to Dick Cheney to complain about how Bush has handled the war in Iraq. If you really want to make a difference, here are a couple more useful links:

Now, finally, I leave you with the mission statement for Ponce de Leon High School. I guess principals there have to read that in their 2nd full year of employment:

“With a philosophy grounded in the firm belief that each student is a unique person of intrinsic worth, the Ponce de Leon High School staff has a clear mission: to support an educational program which accommodates individuality rather than uniformity.

Building upon this basic belief that our students are individuals of diversified interests, aptitudes, talents and goals, we seek to offer a program which accepts each student for who he is, and offers him a diversified program of educational equity and reality-based relevance to the world beyond the classroom.

Our mission requires that our teachers gain a greater knowledge of the student as an individual and use that knowledge to assist the student in developing the potential which is inherent in each.

As educators, we pledge that this mission will be an ongoing one as we seek to make a positive difference in the lives of the sons and daughters of Ponce de Leon High School and to work hard to make the vision statement a reality.”

Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.