Submarine Cable OutagesSubmarine
Cable Map Submarine
Telcoms Forum @philBE2
These happen far more frequently than most people realize. See the interactive Submarine Cable Map for fascinating details about cables, and the Submarine Telecoms Forum for reports on cable faults. Follow @philBE2 on Twitter, "A keen observer of global Submarine Cable Systems developments." Also see the list of international submarine cables for links to Wikipedia articles on many cables.
1929 — An earthquake in Newfoundland broke twelve trans-Atlantic cables by triggering a massive undersea avalanche.
2005 — A portion of the SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable (running from Germany, down the Atlantic coast and across the Mediterranean and Red Sea, to Arabia, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, then through Southeast and East Asia and to Australia) broke 35 kilometers south of Karachi. This disrupted almost all of Pakistan's communications with the rest of the world.
2006 — The SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable was severed 26 December by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake off the coast of Taiwan, causing a major disruption in Internet service to East Asia.
2007 — Pirates stole an 11 kilometer section of the T-V-H (Thailand - Vietnam - Hong Kong) cable in hopes of selling the 100 tons of cable as scrap. LIRNEasia has a story about this.
- 23 January — The FALCON cable was cut, disrupting service between Persian Gulf states and India.
- 30 January — The SEA-ME-WE 4 and FLAG telecom cables were almost simultaneously damaged several kilometers apart in the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria, Egypt. There has been speculation that both were damaged by a ship dragging its anchor, but port video footage shows no ship passing through the area where the damage occurred.
- 1 February — The FALCON cable was cut between Muscat, Oman and Dubai, UAE.
- 3 February — A cabled called DOHA-HALOUL connect Qatar to the UAE was damaged, between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das.
- 4 February — SEA-ME-WE 4 is cut at another location, near Penang, Malaysia.
- 19 December — FLAG telecom, SEA-ME-WE 3, and SEA-ME-WE 4 cabes are cut in the Mediterranean, disconnecting Sicily, Malta, and Alexandria, Egypt, and disrupting 75% of data and voice communication between the Middle East and Asia and the rest of the world. The GO-1 cable linking Sicily to Malta was also cut. The reason was unclear, France Telecom issued a press release saying they had been cut by either bad weather conditions or a ship's anchor. For a description of these outages, see the Wikipedia article.
In late July,
the SAT-3 cable
was damaged, causing Internet connectivity
problems or complete outages in multiple
west African countries including
Benin, Togo, Niger, and Nigeria.
Togo and Niger were completely offline,
while Benin maintained some connectivity only by
rerouting traffic through neighboring countries.
All three used alternative satellite links to
maintain some connectivity.
Nigeria had a 70% bandwidth loss, causing
problems in banking, government, and mobile
networks (and probably slowing down all those
offers allegedly from the Widow Abacha
$12 MILLION US DOLLAR
with random e-mail recipients).
2010 — The SEA-ME-WE 4 system crossing the Mediterranean, Red Sea, and landing at several points along the northern Indian Ocean, was cut in three places off Palermo, Italy.
2011 — The Tōhoku earthquake in March 2011 damaged several undersea cables, including APCN-2 (a ring joining Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines), Pacific Crossing West and Pacific Crossing North, segments of the East Asia Crossing network, a segment of the Japan-U.S. Cable Network, and the PC-1 cable joining two points in Japan with two points on the U.S. west coast.
2012 — TEAMS (The East African Marine Systems) cable was cut in February by the anchor of a ship waiting to enter Mombasa, see the BBC story. Three fibers in the Red Sea had been cut ten days before that per the WSJ on Feb 28th, Eassy or the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System, the Europe India Gateway (EIG), and the South East Asia Middle East Western Europe-3 (SMW-3). Renesys has an article describing these cuts and the impact on connectivity. TEAMS was cut again just 35 days after being repaired. Then in June, SMW-4 was cut near Singapore, largely disconnecting Bangladesh and severely degrading some providers' customers in Singapore, Pakistan, Kuwait and the UAE.
- Three Egyptian knuckleheads were arrested for trying to cut an undersea Internet cable in March. "According to Egyptian military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali, three men were discovered attempting to sabotage an undersea Internet cable from a fishing boat located approximately 820 yards from Alexandria. As a result, Internet users in Egypt have suffered reduced speeds [....]" This was the SEA-ME-WE 4 fibre joining France, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. It's the main Internet backbone link joining Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinents and South East Asia.
- TELE Greenland's submarine cables were cut by twice by a fishing trawler in May.
- In March there were cuts in the Persian Gulf Fiber Optic Gulf (FOG) cable, Middle Eastern and Indian FLAG-FALCON cable, the East Asian APCN-2 cable, and the East African EASSy cable. See an overview here.
- The Asia-America Gateway was broken between Vietnam and Hongkong in July and again in September, see stories here and here.
- The SEA-ME-WE 3 cable was broken between Jakarta and Singapore in December, 2014. It had suffered an earlier outage in July, causing an eight-week degradation of service.
- The West Lake Macquarie area of Australia was without phone and Internet for three weeks in January after a boat's anchor cut a major Telestra submarine cable.
- Bangladesh had degraded service for a week after damage to the 480 Gbps SEA-ME-WE 4 cable between Mumbai and Chennai.
- Multiple undersea cable faults connecting to the Mumbai landing point were blamed for Internet problems throughout India on 20 February. The cuts were in the I-ME-WE cable and the TGN-Intra Asia Cable System, about 110 km from Mumbai.
- A submarine fibre cable was supposedly sabotaged in April, cutting the country of Gabon off the Internet.
- The Southern Cross Cable network joining New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji to the U.S. lost a segment for 8 hours on 21 May when an excavator cut a buried fibre near Klamath Falls, Oregon. The same link had been cut in February when a boring machine cut through buried fibre line near Sacramento, California.
- The Asia America Gateway cable was broken on 26 May, from 13 April to 12 May, for several weeks starting in January, and 5–22 January. A related break in AAG was announced in early February, at a point near the Philippines. It then was taken down for repairs 5-12 June between its landing point in Vung Tau, Vietnam and the other landing points in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, and California.
- An undersea cable cut on 25 June degraded communication between Pakistan and the outside world.
- The only undersea cable joining the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands via Guam to the rest of the world was cut on 9 July, cutting off telephone, Internet, banking, and other communications.
- The Australia Japan Cable failed in 7,000 to 8,000 meters water depth between Maruyama, Japan and Tumon Bay, Guam on 24 August, forcing the rerouting of over 400 gigabits per second of traffic.
- Libya's landline phone system was taken down in most of the country after the submarine cable landing point at Sirte was damaged on 26 August. The area was held by ISIS, who likely were behind the damage.
- The I-ME-WE cable was cut on 9 October near Marseilles, cutting off 3.84 terabits per second to and from its landing points to the east in Catania, Italy; Tripoli, Lebanon; Alexandria and Suez, Egypt; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Karachi, Pakistan; and Mumbai, India.
- The SEA-ME-WE 3 cable suffered another break in September, degrading service to Australia and Brunei. It was thought to be repaired in October, but was again down between Singapore and Perth in early November.
- The SEA-ME-WE 4 cable between Annaba, Algeria and Marseilles, France, was cut on 22 October, taking out 80% of Algerie Telecom's international bandwidth. The cable was restored a week later.
- On 21 December the Basslink cable connecting Tasmania to the Australian mainland was disconnected, cutting off electricity as well as telecommunications. Repairs were expected to take two and a half months. Basslink is a HVDC power cable, operating at 400 kV DC and carrying 500 MW of electrical power. It includes a fibre link, the first non-Telestra fibre crossing the Bass Strait.
- Multiple submarine cable cuts near Egypt on January 23 reduced traffic to the UAE telecoms service provider du. The cuts to the EIG, FEA, and Falcon cables took longer to repair than first anticipated.
- The PPC-1 cable joining Cromer, Australia, with Piti, Guam, with 1.92 terabits per second capacity, was broken about 4,590 kilometers from its Guam landing on February 7, and was expected to be out for at least a month.
- A lightning strike on February 19 at the U.S. landing point of the Maya-1 cable system in Hollywood, Florida, cut off that cable leading to and Cancun, Mexico, continuing to the Cayman Islands; Puerto Cortes, Honduras; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Maria Chiquita, Panama; and Tolu, Colombia. Customers of one Cayman Islands telco could not reach emergency numbers during the outage.
- Cyclone Vardah damaged submarine cables to eastern India in early December 2016, repairs lasted until January.
- A ship's anchor cut three cables in the English Channel in November 2016, they were repaired on 8 January 2017.
- The Asia America Gateway cable to Vietnam broke on 8 January 2017.
- The Globacom-1 (GLO-1) submarine cable was cut on 16 February 2017. It runs from Britain to landing points in Lisbon and Nigeria.
- The Asia America Gateway cable to Vietnam broke a second time on 18 February 2017. In late March they were still waiting on repairs.
- The Intra Asia cable to Vietnam broke on 4 March 2017. It was fixed around 25 March.
- The Asia Pacific Gateway broke between Vietnam and Hong Kong on 6 June 2017.
- Congo-Brazzaville experienced a 15-day Internet outage after a submarine cable cut by a fishing vessel on 9 June.
- The SAT3 cable broke in mid-June about 53 kilometers from the Melkbosstrand landing station in South Africa.
- Seabed movement cut the MainOne cable on 18 June 2017, 3,000 kilometers south of Portugal, in 3,400 meters of water off Senegal. It was repaired on 2 July.
- The EASSy cable along Africa's east coast was damaged about 4 kilometers offshore Mogadishu on 23 June. The outage was estimated to cost Somalia US$ 10 million per day despite only 1.6% of the population being online in 2014. 3G service has been also switched off in southern Somalia since 2014 in response to a threat from al-Shabab militants. EASSy was repaired on 14 August.
- The SEA-ME-WE 4 cable was cut, in early July, degrading Pakistan's Internet service.
- The India – Middle East – Western Europe (IMEWE) cable went down on 5 August. It was still causing problems including cancelled domestic and international flights out of Islamabad at the end of that month.
31 August 2017 was a busy day.
- The SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable between Perth and Singapore was broken on 31 August, with repairs expected to take until mid October.
- The Asia America Gateway (AAG) was broken at two points about 66 and 85 kilometers from its Hong Kong endpoint.
- The Intra Asia (AI) cable was broken about 54 kilometers from its Hong Kong endpoint.
- The AAG was broken for the 5th time in 2017 on 7 November.
- The SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable linking Australia to Southeast Asia was cut for the 3rd time in 2017 on 3 December. It was initially expected to be fixed within a week, but repairs were pushed back to the 26th. Then later, to early January.
- The operators of the Basslink cable carrying electrical power and data to Tasmania damaged it by overloading the power capacity, according to a report on 20 December 2017 describing a study of the December 2015 outage.
- The Europe-India Gateway submarine cable suffered a fault 15 km off Alexandria, Egypt on 25 December. It impacted Internet traffic into the Middle East and India and was expected to take 3-4 weeks to repair.
- The Asia-Pacific Gateway submarine cable between Vietnam and Singapore failed on 27 December.
- The Asia Pacific Gateway connecting Vietnam and China was cut on February 27.
- The ACE submarine cable connecting 22 countries along the west coast of Africa to Europe was cut on March 30, disrupting traffic to 10 countries and disconnecting six that have only a single submarine cable connection.
- The Asia Pacific Gateway connecting Vietnam and China was cut again on April 24.
- The Basslink Interconnector submarine cable system joining Tasmania to the Australian mainland was damaged in April. It was not fully repaired until two months later.
- A fire at a submarine cable station on April 30 disrupted telecommunications services across the Ivory Coast. The fire, which police blamed on "sabotage", took out the Orange wireless and data customers and fixed-line services.
- The AAG submarine cable joining the Philippines and Hong Kong was damaged in early May.
- The SEA-ME-WE3 submarine cable connecting Perth and Singapore failed on May 11.
- The submarine fibre optic cable of Angola Cables' WACS system was cut in two places on September 24.
- Construction work for a bridge piling cut the SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable on December 10.
- The submarine cable joining Greenland to Iceland failed on December 28, cutting capacity for radio, TV, and telephony in addition to what we think of as traditional Internet traffic.
- The Intra Asia submarine cable joining Vietnam to Hong Kong failed on January 10.
See these comments from a former CIA analyst on the vulnerability of civilian satellites.
Also see this 2002 GAO report on commercial satellite vulnerability.
1995 — Intelsat 511 was disabled for a few hours by an electrostatic discharge event, taking out some Australia-USA links. The event fired a thruster and turned the satellite out of alignment for the links to Earth.
1997 — A $200,000,000 Telstar satellite (and thus all its comm links) was taken out by an unexpected solar flare on 11 January. I was teaching a course that week, and many students complained the next day that the pay-per-view movies no longer worked in their hotel rooms.... Science, 31 January 1997, pg 623, and Science News, 1 February 1997, pg 68.
1998 — Galaxy VII failed 13 June and dropped several hours of several cable TV networks. Some other satellite failed 4 July 1998, dropping several hours of DirectTV. In both cases, a control processor failed, but they eventually could switch to a backup processor. WSJ, 9 Jul 1998, Reuters.
1998 — Galaxy IV failed in May and took out over 80% of North American pagers for several days. See the reports here, here, here, here and here. Wire news service including Reuters was affected. CBS and NPR had to use backup transmission links. The primary control processor had failed due to tin whisker growth.
2004 — Intelsat Americas-7 (formerly Telstar 7, later Galaxy 27) experienced a several-day power failure on 29 November 2004. See the reports here and here.
2006 — The Optus B1 satellite lost contact 30 March and among other things cut off some television service to New Zealand. Also see these reports.
2007 — XM Satellite Radio was off the air for a day in May, see the Washington Post article for details. "The company blamed a software glitch for the interruption."
2007 — Dish Network was out 19 and 22 August for two hours and a half hour respectively.
2007 — Alaskan public television was out on 20 August due to some satellite problems.