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The Internet Networking

Civil Construction Wipes Out Internet Connectivity Across Africa (thestack.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes: Submarine cable operator Seacom has announced that civil construction activity was the cause of widespread outages which left large parts of Africa without internet connectivity yesterday. According to the firm, its Northern Trans-Egypt cable was damaged between Cairo and Alexandria, and the Southern Trans-Egypt route was also disrupted outside of Cairo. Adding to the interruption, Seacom's backup route, the West Africa Cable System (WACS), was also down at the same time, leaving most African countries without connectivity.
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Civil Construction Wipes Out Internet Connectivity Across Africa

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  • It had to have been some terror group cutting the cables randomly to help them map out which cables are involved in providing service to emergency responders to the Bay Area, in preparation for an attack on the Super Bowl.... :-D

    • Previous such cutting of fibre links are thought to have been caused by spy agencies attaching taps to the cables. My guess is that, if not accidental, that is the cause here. Terrorist groups might gain some ideas from this though.

      • Remember a few years ago when all of the internet cables into Iran lost service "accidentally" at the same time?

        I am wondering if a national intelligence service has decided to tap (or break) multiple cables at the same time for some reason--perhaps to prevent the deployment of more detection tech or development of more of a ready-response before they tap the next cable? Or perhaps as a feather in someone's cap.

        Of course, it could just be coincidence. But that becomes less likely the more times we see mul

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Flamebait? Somebody clearly didn't get the joke [slashdot.org].

  • why I didn't get my daily dose of business proposals.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In other news, people over 65 have become increasingly worried as their correspondence with foreign princes has dropped to an all-time low.

  • Shouldn't they still have been able to reach addresses on their own continent?

  • by kamapuaa ( 555446 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @08:49PM (#51354709) Homepage

    This is clear evidence that the US is trying to kill Iran's petroleum market, one not tagged to the dollar. Petrodollars are the last thread holding up the fragile US economy before it falls off a cliff.

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      This is clear evidence that the US is trying to kill Iran's petroleum market, one not tagged to the dollar. Petrodollars are the last thread holding up the fragile US economy before it falls off a cliff.

      How is it killed by letting them sell more of it?

      Sure USA may want to keep dollar still somewhat of a standard currency for transactions.

  • "Civil Construction Wipes Out Internet Connectivity Across Africa"

    Sounds like some pretty uncivil construction, if you ask me. Hiyaaaaaaaaaaa! (puts on shades)

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:05PM (#51354947)

    I recall the story a friend of mine told me, when he was in charge of public works.

    Workers came to him telling the found a huge cable while excavating. I answered "We asked for all authorization and they were granted, hence pull it off

    Within 15 minute, the city was full of national telco branded cars, with workers opening manholes everywhere. He asked what was going on and was replied they had a major transatlantic link cut. It seems the maps were not up to date, and authorization to dig was granted on basis of wrong data.

    • Well, if it was so important they would have updated the maps.

    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      There was an article with photo showing a huge and horrible looking mass of lines and cables strung around utility poles in some town in China or India. Mayor got totally pissed at so many poles of all these ugly cables he ordered city crews to tear them all down to beautify the city streets. Result was town was delivered to the Sixth century.
  • Backhoe delay is still something sysadmins (or network admins today) need to factor into their calculations.

    Some things never change. They may scale, but they don't change.
  • Web Split (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ramze ( 640788 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:11AM (#51355385)

    Wouldn't the proper way of describing this event be something more like "African portion of Internet splits away briefly?" My understanding is that the continent's infrastructure was separated from the rest of the global web, but that doesn't necessarily equal NO internet access. It's entirely possible many in South Africa and other countries barely noticed the disruption.

    If North America's internet connections to other continents went down, we'd likely say that international services "went down" as many of us would still have access to everything we regularly access every day. I'd still be able to access Gmail, Netflix, my online services from most businesses, etc. We wouldn't be writing about how North America's internet "went down."

    • Re:Web Split (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Saturday January 23, 2016 @12:26AM (#51355427) Homepage

      South African here, we did notice. Big time. The problem is that unlike Europe and America, the big boys don't have datacentres inside the undersea cable boundary. MS is served from Ireland, others from Amsterdam and France as best we can tell. Also a lot of sites under the South African domain use cheaper hosting off-shore.

      There are 4 operational cables linking into South Africa, two on the west side and two on the east and most ISPs get redundancy by purchasing on one on each side. Just happened that a large batch of ISPs had WACS and Seacom as their redundant pair.

      And as for the theories about monitoring installations, Seacom has gone down so many times since it was commissioned that every spy agency in the Universe probably has installed equipment on it, all in Egypt. Must look like a Christmas tree there :)

      • American living in Mozambique (country to the immediate east of S.A) here.

        We didn't notice at all. I had no idea this had happened until I saw this story here on slashdot.

        It's funny, Mozambique is FAR less developed than our neighbors to the west (South Africa). Enough so that I routinely make trips there to purchase cheaper/better goods than can be found here and/or to relax and find some comforts that are unavailable here. Yet our internet connection is MUCH faster, more reliable, and cheaper than a
        • Interesting. Both Seacom and EASSY cable systems have landing stations at Maputo, so your ISPs probably used both of those and you didn't see the effects of the Seacom outage.

          Some SA providers also used EASSY as well and showed slowdowns, but not full failures. It's just a pity that EASSY and Seacom haven't instituted mutual restoration agreements with each other, they definitely have the spare capacity on their systems to do that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As an American, I do not understand the concept of other countries needing the internet; they only require either food or bombs.

  • calling bull shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2016 @03:43AM (#51355835)

    I worked in the middle east, I was in my hotel one night and all of a sudden the internet stopped working and I could no longer do any work, after dicking around with my laptop trying to get the internet working again thinking it was my computer at fault, I finally gave up and called reception who said none of the outside lines or internet is working.

    I went in early to the office to finish the work I was working on before my boss came in, The taxi driver had trouble finding a place to pull up because every van in the country that had a fiber splicer in the back was now parked outside my building with a bunch of poor guys scratching their heads trying to figure out where to begin... I quickly found out that my building and the other building in the country that hosts the diversity of their international links was broken into at the same time that night and the attacker hacked at all the links with a chain saw.
    There was no internet, ATMs and many landline and mobile services did not work that day. The army came in to overtake the repair operations when it was noticed that the palace, bases and airports could not function correctly, and the local telco could not cope with the amount of repair work.
    A meeting took place between military and the telco... (I got kicked out of the meeting room they used to hold the meeting) The army did not want to acknowledge that it was a terrorist attack publicly and the telco obviously did not want to cop the blame in the eyes of their customers and the country, so both parties agreed that the story would be that a configuration error on an "overseas upstream provider" caused the problem. That is how it was reported in the news.

    I still don't understand why they wanted to keep it under wraps....

    TLDR; "CIVIL CONSTRUCTION MY ASS"

  • I was trying to get $10,000 to a Nigerian heir of a murdered businessman in order to recover $10 MILLION at the time of the outage!!!!

    I will probably never have such a great opportunity again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Attending a recent presentation on "Risk and Impact of a Communications Outage" speaker mentioned there is more and more construction crews accidentally cutting cables. Also with fiber able to carry more bandwidth than copper, less fiber cables can be laid. Unlike in the old days of slow baud rates many more copper lines had to be laid. There were also microwave links. So back then if someone cuts a cable, the impacted area is smaller than it is now. With a single fiber carrying much more, cutting that one

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