Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Internet to East Africa disrupted by anchor


It is an equipment, part of a Ship – an Anchor – a device, generally made of metal – used to prevent vessel from drifting due to wind or current.  The word derives from Latin ancora, which itself comes from the Greek ankura.  There are different types of anchors.

All of us use Internet, and some cannot live without Internet connection – some get very perturbed if the speed is not up to desired levels – it has become such a part and parcel of day to day life.  Internet primarily is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. Without the Internet, you may not be able to access any of the sites or documents in World Wide Web (www) or send e-mail communication.
underwater internet cables : graph courtesy : www.guardian.co.uk

But what is the connection between an Anchor and Internet connection ?

Your PC or laptop might work wireless – but despite the hi-tech image that we have in mind, there is physical connection put in place through sheer physical effort, mostly that of expensive fibre optic cables, laid at a great cost around the globe that directs and controls the internet traffic.

Now there is news that East Africa's high-speed internet access has been severely disrupted after a ship dropped its anchor onto a fibre-optic cable off Kenya's coast.  The ship was waiting to enter Mombasa - one of Africa's busiest ports - when it anchored in a restricted area- and it could take could take up to 14 days to repair is what is causing worry.  This reportedly is  one of three undersea cables to have arrived in the region since 2009,  which has provided  faster internet access to this part of the globe.  It is the bandwidth which determines traffic and its speed and the increased bandwidth had given a boost to mobile services to Kenya

The Indian Ocean fiber-optic cable, known as The East African Marine Systems, or Teams, is owned by a group of telecom companies and the Kenyan government. It was the fourth cable to be severed in the region since Feb. 17.  BBC reports that it was the  cable run by Teams that was damaged at the weekend. Internet service providers and mobile phone operators have re-routed to the Seacom link - which was not damaged by the dropped anchor. But the company has only bought a small amount of bandwidth because of cost.  It is reported that as a consequence, internet connections are expected to slow down by 20% in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Sudan's capital, Juba. Seacom - the first to be up and running - links East Africa to Europe, India and South Africa. Teams links the region to the United Arab Emirates - and Eassy, which went live in July 2010, links countries along the East African coast.

This is reportedly the second incident as 10 days ago,  Teams cable had severed in  Red Sea between Djibouti and the Middle East.  It was apprehended that a passing ship could have caused the damage because the Red Sea is unusually shallow.

These cables are known as submarine fibre-optic cables and each of them is typically composed of about four strands, each one the diameter of a human hair and sheathed in a thick steel armor. The strands are capable of carrying millions of phone calls and data connections at once.A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean.  The first submarine communications cables carried telegraphy traffic. Subsequent generations of cables carried first telephony traffic, then data communications traffic. All modern cables use optical fiber technology to carry digital payloads, which are then used to carry telephone traffic as well as Internet and private data traffic.

So the Sea bed not only contains innumerable Marine wealth but also hosts of other things discarded by mankind and some which are carefully installed by the same mankind

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Feb 2012.

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