Qatar’s Internet restored to full capacity
Doha, January 6, 2009
Qtel has provided a full update on the Internet issues that affected Qatar in December and assured customers that Internet capacity is now back to 100 per cent.
The report highlights the technical challenges that faced the teams responsible for repairing the breach, and also underlined the effectiveness of many of the safety measures introduced in 2008 to deal with these issues.
Internet services were disrupted on December 19 when three undersea cables – Sea Me We 4, Sea Me We 3 and FLAG, located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia – were damaged.
These three cables are estimated to carry 75 per cent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America, and the breach would have caused major disruption to Qatar Internet and possibly voice operations, were it not for the robust response strategy that Qtel has put in place.
Following the initial breach, loss of capacity in Qatar was kept below 47 per cent, because Qtel’s network of alternative transmission routes and back-up cables ensured that Qatar remained connected.
With Qtel’s built-in safety margin of 20 per cent for its network redundancy (spare capacity), the traffic impact overall was less than 27 per cent.
One of the factors that aided this process significantly was that, throughout the course of 2008, Qtel has positioned itself so that there is an even split between data sent via Western-running cables (such as the affected cables in the Mediterranean) and via Eastern-running cables, through Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.
When the cables were breached in the Mediterranean, Qtel was able to begin routing all data via the Eastern-running cables within six hours of the first problem being reported.
Qtel maintained regular contact with the team responsible for the cable ship charged with repairing the breaches. While weather at the site created a number of challenges, the team was able to quickly locate the break on the first cable and begin implementing repairs.
Sea Me We 4 – which carries a significant volume of data for Qatar – was repaired by France Télécom on December 25, restoring 70 per cent of potential capacity to Qatar. Unfortunately, this cable broke again in a different location on the same day, offshore from Alexandria, Egypt, and the team had to travel to repair the new break.
The second cable, FLAG, was fixed on December 31 – restoring 81 per cent of capacity to Qatar, while the second breach on Sea Me We 4 was repaired on January 4, restoring Qatar to 100 per cent Internet capacity.
The third and final cable, Sea Me We 3, is reported as being repaired on Monday, although this cable does not carry any data for Qatar.
Creating crisis and back-up procedures for the Internet has been a major strategic focus for Qtel over recent years. In addition, the company has helped create private networks for a number of key corporate clients, who remained untouched by the slowdown.
Moving forward, Qtel is already engaged in developing a number of strategic relationships that will enable the company to build on its position as one of the pioneers in network support and management in the region.
In December, the company signed a strategic agreement with Reliance Globalcom, a leading global provider of enterprise, wholesale, consumer and managed services.
The two companies will offer a comprehensive range of value-added services to customers in Qatar and internationally, including Global Ethernet, Full Circuit IPLC (International Private Leased Circuit), Managed Services and IP VPN (Internet Protocol for Virtual Private Networks). – TradeArabia News Service