Comm Link

PARIS, December 20, 2008 (AFP) – A French ship on Saturday took experts to repair broken undersea Mediterranean cables that caused severe disruption to telephone and Internet services across the Middle East and Asia, France Telecom said.

But many operators said communications services had improved as alternative routes had been used to carry calls and Internet information.

The France Telecom cable ship Raymond Croze left Seyne-sur-Mer, southern France, on Friday night and was expected to be on the scene of the damage, between Sicily and Tunisia, on Monday, a spokesman said.

Egypt was one of countries worst affected by Friday’s incident, but state news agency MENA reported that Internet communications there would be restored to more than half of normal capacity on Saturday.

Egypt announced on Friday that it was rerouting Internet services to back-up cables and satellite.

The disruption also affected countries as far away as Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, but most reported services returning to normal on Saturday.

The cables are jointly owned by several dozen different countries. One cable is 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) long and links 33 different countries while