For want of a horseshoe, the kingdom was lost.
On Thursday, India’s thriving outsourcing industry looked for cover as two undersea cables in the Mediterranean that carry data and voice traffic broke down, and net surfers across the country battled a slow network and disruption of services.
<b1>“I have no idea what happened, but customers are going back as they are unable to work properly,” said Sanjeev Gupta, who runs a cybercafé in east Delhi. “It is taking more than five minutes for any site to open.”
Trouble began on Wednesday evening India time after two major undersea cables — SME 4 operated by a global consortium, and the Reliance Communications-owned Flag — snapped after an anchoring ship pulled them up 10 km off the coast of Egypt.
Large parts of West Asia and India suffered Internet outages. Internet service providers and outsourcing companies took a hit. "IT and software services firms and call centres that provide online services to the UK and US were worst-affected,” said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of India.
The only undersea cable still working has a capacity of only 20 gigabytes per second, of which 15 Gbps is already in use by existing customers. Officials dealing with the problem said it could take as many as 10 days to restore the ripped cables.
Large outsourcing firms like Gurgaon-based Genpact and Mumbai-based Firstsource have either shifted work or rerouted communication channels to keep going. “We have built in enough redundancy in the system to face such an eventuality,” said Pramod Bhasin, chief executive of Genpact. But smaller firms will have to live with a slower network and disruptions. Few have backup facilities.