Lebanon pays Internet cable fee, rules out blackout

A girl works on her laptop at a cafe in Hamra.(The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The finance and telecommunication ministries paid Saturday Lebanon’s dues toward the IMEWE, an international submarine communications cable needed for high-speed Internet, and dismissed fears that a failure of payment would have caused disruptions to the service.

“At 11 a.m. [Saturday] the telecommunications and finance ministries managed to transfer $3.2 million, which is what Lebanon owes toward the international submarine cable IMEWE,” according to a statement from caretaker Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui.

“The [telecoms] ministry renews its pledge that it will remain the guardian in terms of ensuring the smooth operation of the sector that has become central to the economy and security,” it said.

“The important thing is that the positive cooperation between the ministries of telecommunications and finance solved the problem of [securing] Lebanon’s dues toward the international [IMEWE] cable,” it added.

The statement also noted, in an apparent response to reports that a failure to pay the fees would have resulted in significant disruptions to Internet in the country, that Lebanon had a backup in place.

“We would like the Lebanese to know that the Telecommunications Ministry had secured alternative international capacity for Lebanon via the ALEXANDROS cable. Therefore, Lebanon would not have faced disruptions because of the alternative measures in place,” the statement said.

In April, the Telecoms Ministry and the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority announced sharing capacity on the ALEXANDROS submarine cable subsystem between Cyprus, Egypt and France.

Al-Akhbar newspaper’s front page article Saturday warned that Lebanon may have faced significant Internet disruptions if the Telecoms Ministry failed to pay $1.6 million to the consortium behind the IMEWE cable before a Nov. 3 deadline.

The paper said 60 percent of Lebanon’s Internet capacity could have been affected.





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