FALCON cable cut causes outages for African countries

FALCON cable cut causes outages for African countries

17 January 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania are reportedly in the midst of a major internet outage caused by cuts to the FLAG Alcatel-Lucent Optical Network (FALCON) in Yemen.

According to reports, the cuts happened on January 9, and in a statement by Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) which manages the system, it suffered “two major cable cuts off-shore Port Suez. The cable routes impacted include FALCON between Muscat and Suez and FEA between Mumbai and Suez.”

Initial findings from the company indicate that the cause of the break was “an anchor drag by a large merchant vessel in the immediate area”. GCX has already deployed repair ships and is working to “apply for required permits” it says that the time of repair will depend on how long it takes to procure the permits.

In the interim it says that all layer 1 traffic along of the remain ‘hard down’ and that it is working on restoring connection through various other means such as using third part cables where possible and that its teams are working around the clock.

The entire Gulf region, along with a number of African countries have been affected but Yemen has reportedly come off worse for wear with 80% of its internet connections down. This is due to the country’s lack of alternative infrastructure and dependence on FALCON.

The area around the Suez Canal and the Red Sea has been described by Doug Madory, director or internet analysis at Oracle Internet Intelligence as ‘very shallow’ making is suspectable to anchor drops and cable cuts like this one.

In related news, GCX recently appointed Rory Cole, the company’s CFO, as its new interim CEO succeeding Bill Barney who stepped down from his role at parent company RCOM in September 2019.