Red Sea Cable Cuts Disrupt Global Internet Traffic


Tech companies reroute data after attacks damage undersea cables

Telecom and tech firms are scrambling to reroute internet traffic after attacks in the Red Sea damaged critical undersea cables, raising concerns about internet connectivity and services around the world.

The damage is believed to be caused by an anchor from the sunken ship Rubymar, which was targeted by Houthi rebels in February. The Red Sea is a vital route for internet traffic between continents, carrying a staggering 99% of data.

Several companies, including tech giant Microsoft, have confirmed taking action to redirect traffic flows. While some telecoms downplay the impact, experts warn of potential consequences that could cascade across different sectors:

Disruptions to internet service:
East Africa is expected to be particularly affected, as the damaged cables facilitated a significant portion of the region’s internet traffic.

Increased latency: Delays in data transfer, known as latency, could significantly impact services like video calls, which rely on real-time transmission. Financial trading, which hinges on split-second decisions, could also be hampered by slow data transfer speeds.

Cascading effects: A worst-case scenario of complete cable failure could have severe consequences for global internet connectivity. Data would be forced to take longer routes, further increasing latency and potentially causing outages for certain regions or network operators.

Experts point to a 2006 earthquake that damaged undersea cables and disrupted international banking services and trading in Hong Kong and South Korea, as an example of the potential impact. While most internet users in those regions experienced slow connection speeds, the disruption caused significant problems for traders who rely on high-speed data transfer.

Repairing the damaged cables is expected to take place sometime in the second quarter of 2024. However, ongoing political instability in the region raises concerns about the possibility of further disruptions.

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