Availability of multiple connectivity links from Indian shores has limited the impact of the recent cuts in four undersea cables.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd on Monday said it has lost around 21 per cent of its total international bandwidth after four major undersea cables that connect India to other parts of the world got cut last week.

While telecom companies said there was disruption of service, the impact is much lower compared to 5 years ago when such a cable cut knocked off 70-80 per cent of the bandwidth availability.

Multiple cable systems

“Internet services have been impacted but now there are multiple cable systems connecting India to the rest of the world. So even if four cables are cut, we still have other links to reroute international traffic,” said Rajesh Chharia, President, Internet Service Providers Association of India.

The four undersea cables that got cut include the SEA-ME-WE-4, IMEWE and EIG cable systems. These cable systems carry international voice and data traffic from India to Europe. Operators including Bharti Airtel, Tata Communications and BSNL use these cables to transmit international traffic. These players are working to switch the traffic to other cable networks such as the FLAG owned by Reliance Communications, which have not been impacted.

“RCom has made available 200-300 Gbps of capacity over the last 4-5 days for carriers which wanted to reroute traffic to Europe from India and Middle East,” Punit Garg, President & CEO Reliance Globalcom, told Business Line .

The sudden unexpected reduction in the international bandwidth has caused some delay in accessing international sites and has impacted corporate customers that are running critical applications. For instance, a Mumbai-based aviation company said that it was finding it difficult to update ticketing-related information from its servers located in Europe.

Tata Communications said there was interruption of services to some customers on March 27. “The majority of the company’s customers were re-routed automatically via its south Asian and Pacific routes and customers who have subscribed protected services have been restored onto a rapidly configured fourth India to Europe route, swiftly engineered with service partners to minimise service disruption,” Tata Communications said.

The cables got cut over the past 10 days due to anchorage dropped by ships near the Egyptian and Indian coasts. Most of the four cables are new and the owners may not have updated the exact location on shipping navigation systems.

Minimising impact

“Going forward submarine cable consortiums should invest in making information available to ship owner worldwide about the cable routes. Surveillance on coastal areas should also be improved,” Garg said.

ISPAI’s Chharia said that India should create infrastructure aimed at keeping the Internet traffic within the country. “Currently, about 60 per cent of Internet traffic goes outside the country. We should bring it down to 20 per cent by encouraging local hosting of servers and applications,” Chharia said.