[LINK] Gridlock on the Internet
Tue, 21 Nov 2000 09:04:36 +1100
Gridlock on the Internet as intercontinental cable lies damaged on sea
Damage to one of the world's busiest Internet cables was creating chaos
last night for millions of people in Australia, Asia and Europe. The
SEA-ME-WE 3 cable which links the three continents was damaged on the sea
floor about 100 kilometres from Singapore at 3.20pm.
Telstra Australia's biggest Internet service provider with more than
650,000 customers relies on the cable for 60 per cent of its traffic.
Hundreds of other Australian ISPs also use it. A Telstra BigPond spokesman,
Mr Stuart Gray, said that Internet traffic last night was "in a massive log
jam". The gridlock, he said, was probably the biggest Internet problem
Australia had seen.
With the damaged section of cable lying at a still unknown depth, it was
impossible to estimate when the problem would be fixed. By about 10pm,
Telstra had its network operating again by rerouting traffic, but Mr Gray
said service would probably not be restored to normal capacity until the
cable was fixed.
While Telstra was not urging customers to limit their use of the Internet,
they would face delays. At the height of the problem last night, Telstra's
Internet was working at just over 30 per cent capacity meaning that about
two-thirds of its users had slow access, or could not be connected.
It is understood that long-distance telephone calls largely escaped the
problem, with technicians able to redirect nearly all the calls to other
The 39,000-kilometre SEA-ME-WE 3, which only began operating last year, is
the world's longest telecommunications system. It has 40 landing points in
34 countries on four continents, stretching from western Europe (including
Germany, Britain and France) to the Far East (including China, Japan and
Singapore), to Australia.
The cause of the damage to the cable built specifically to speed up
Internet access is still unknown, but the possibilities include a ship's
anchor or an earthquake. Its bundle of superfine optical fibres can
transfer 20 gigabits of information a second the equivalent of about 5,000
medium-length novels, 500,000 simultaneous telephone chats or a million
pages of email.
About 100 telecommunications companies around the world including Telstra
are partners in the $1.7 billion project.
Last night's damage would have caused even more havoc if it had happened
before last week's launch of the $2.3 billion Southern Cross cable, which
links Australia to the United States. Cable and Wireless Optus has a 40 per
cent stake in the new cable and last night it was reporting no problems
with its Optus network.
Life may have no meaning.
Or even worse, it may have a meaning of which I disapprove.