x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE internet traffic stuck in slow lane for now

The damage to an underwater cable that has slowed the country's internet access to a crawl this week will not be repaired until next week.

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The damage to an underwater cable that has slowed the country's internet access to a crawl this week will not be repaired until next week, Etisalat says. The country's biggest telecommunications company said repair ships would arrive at the site of the damage on Saturday and it was likely to be fixed by next Tuesday. The operator previously said the cable would be repaired by today. Etisalat said it was actively rerouting internet traffic to ensure the country's users stayed online.

The cable,called Sea-ME-We 4, was damaged last week in the Mediterranean. It provides most of the UAE's internet access, supported by two small connections. "After a sudden Sea-ME-We 4 cable breakdown … Etisalat customers did not face major slowdowns in internet browsing, owing to its robust network with multiple redundant links to major global internet hubs in Asia, Europe, and USA," the operator said.

The UAE's second-largest telecoms operator, du, said its internet service was not affected by the cable break. The company only uses the Sea-ME-We 4 for a small percentage of its internet connection and has already diverted its bandwidth to other connections. Etisalat said its rerouting strategy would improve connections to bandwidth-intensive websites such as YouTube, but online video streams were still suspended.

The UAE should gain access to five more underwater cables by the end of this year, which will reduce the chance of a major internet cut, said the telecoms research company TeleGeography. dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae