Indian outsourcing sector hit by Internet disruption

BANGALORE, India, Jan 31, 2008 (AFP) – India’s vital outsourcing industry, which relies heavily on the Internet, was grappling with a major communications disruption Thursday after damage to undersea cables thousands of kilometres away in the Mediterranean. It said there was no total breakdown in services, only poor bandwidth and slow line speeds. Internet connections may take up to 15 days to return to normal, businesses said, adding that telecommunications in neighbouring Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were also affected.

“Information-technology companies, software companies and call centres that provide online services to the UK or the US East Coast are the worst affected,” said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of India.

“Some of them are re-routing through the Pacific as a backup, but the voice quality and speed of traffic will be highly degraded,” he said, adding this solution left operators with half their normal bandwidth.

Egyptian officials said Wednesday that an undersea communications cable had been cut, while in Kuwait the government said “weather conditions and maritime traffic” had damaged two cables, affecting most of the region.

India’s 11 billion dollar outsourcing industry is made up of 1