Pakistan Net cable repair set for mid-July

Work on the repair of the Sea-Me-We 3 (South East Asia Middle East Western Europe 3) cable off the southern coast of Pakistan is under way and is expected to be completed by the second week of this month, according to an executive of Emirates Telecommunications and Marine Services FZE (e-marine), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) company assigned to do the repair.

The fault in the cable, the only cable link to Pakistan, has affected the country’s Internet connectivity and international telephony service since June 27. The fault was detected south of Karachi.

The major challenges facing e-marine’s cable ship (CS) Etisalat and her crew are the weather, considering the monsoon in the region, said Omar Jassim Bin Kalban, chief executive officer of e-marine in an e-mail interview Wednesday. “This cable rests in shallow waters, and that is a challenge to the navigation of our cable ship,” said Kalban. “The shallow water has been the reason for the damage to the cable, which was cut by a vessel dragging anchor.”

The cut and damaged section is being replaced now, with CS Etisalat attaching three kilometres of cable to the main cable at two points, Kalban said. The damage to the cable has not affected other countries in the region, he added.

Sea-Me-We 3 has a total length of 39,000 kilometres, and includes 39 landing points in 33 countries in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Australia. The other countries besides Pakistan in this segment of Sea-Me-We 3 include the UAE, Oman, India, and Djibouti.

E-marine, a submarine cable installation, maintenance and repair company, has a contract with the Sea-Me-We-3 consortium for annual storage, repair and maintenance of the cable across the region, according to Kalban.

E-marine announced last week that it had received notification about the damage to the undersea cable off the coast of Karachi, and had dispatched a repair ship to the location to attend to the fault.

As it is the only cable link to Pakistan, the fault on Sea-Me-We 3 has crippled the Pakistan economy, particularly its call centre industry, banks, and online stock market trading, said V.A. Abdi, secretary of the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) in Karachi. The country has to make do with 100Mbps of bandwidth provided by satellite, as against the 775Mbps of bandwidth that Pakistan was using before the cable fault, Abdi said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

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