Cyber gateway faces disruption
KARACHI: The country’s cyber gateway faced disruption on Monday as the only undersea fibre link went through planned maintenance. Internet browsers said they were receiving ‘excuse messages’ time and again from their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) while the ISPs complained of not receiving the required bandwidth from the Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL) to continue service without any disruptions.
“The ISPs are not getting the normal service, so how can they deliver the normal? We are contacting the PTCL but are not getting a satisfactory reply,” said V A Abidi, Secretary ISPs Association of Pakistan (ISPAK).
Pakistan’s only undersea fibre link will remain shut for maintenance till October 15. “The Submarine Cable, Sea Me We-3, connecting countries in South East Asia, Middle East and Western Europe (SEAMEWE) from Australia to Germany will be out of service from 05-15th October 2003 due to the replacement and repair of faulty Branching Unit (BU) in KR-Fujira, KR-Bombay,” said a PTCL announcement a couple of days ago.
However, the PTCL – the country’s only internet backbone provider – insists the company has made all necessary arrangements and there would be no more disruption from Tuesday. “We have made all possible alternates. We have already announced that there would be some disruptions during peak hours but it would get better from tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Zahir Muhammad Khan, Member Operations PTCL.
“PTCL already has one 34 megabits satellite link. The existing simplex satellite link would be converted to duplex link,” Khan added. Another 34 megabits duplex satellite links was added at Islamabad while a temporary 34 megabits duplex satellite link had already been added for October, he elaborated. The country has only one international undersea fibre link, SEAMEWE-3. In case of a disruption in the link, the total internet network comes to a grinding halt.
The SEAMEWE-3 is vulnerable to cuts (accidental and malicious) and international communications from and to Pakistan could go in dark for several weeks. The only access would then be via the backup Intelsat Satellite System, providing only 34-megabyte bandwidth against 155-megabyte bandwidth by the fibre link.
“This is not the first time. We have experienced that in the past too. Such situation establishes the need of a second fibre link,” said V A Abidi of ISPAK. Pakistan’s telecom system has already experienced the worst crisis twice this year when its link with outside world was disconnected due to damage in PTCL’s fibre link.
The disconnection occurred first on April 4 and then on July 7 when operations of all the 72 ISPs in the country came to a halt, thus affecting internet browsers who could not log-in for over 15 hours. The disconnection also prevented international callers from getting connected.
Source: The News