Lebanon Internet outages linger

The Ministry of Telecommunications released a statement stating that the IMEWE cable has been severed at a junction.

BEIRUT: The Telecommunications Ministry said Thursday that a severing in the IMEWE cable caused the nation-wide Internet outages.

A statement released by the ministry said that the IMEWE cable – a submarine fiber optic cable linking Lebanon to international Internet capacities - was severed at a junction 50 kilometers from the coast of northern Egyptian city of Alexandria and affected eight other countries.

The ministry added that they were working with the proper authorities in Egypt and Cyprus and in coordination with Ogero to rectify the situation.

The ministry has asked Ogero to distribute the remaining Internet capacity to all Internet users across Lebanon, both in the public and private sectors, according to the statement.

The ministry has also said that the launch of an emergency committee has been initiated in order to follow up on repairs and locate temporary solutions for Internet shortages.

Telecoms Minister Nicholas Sehnaoui told The Daily Star that the country is currently running on 1.6 gigabytes of the CADMOS line and an  additional 0.5 gigabytes of satellite connections from the private sector.

He added that he was hopeful that additional Internet capacity would be available before tonight.

Lebanon plunged once again into an Internet blackout Wednesday evening when the IMWE (India-Middle East-Western Europe).

Minister Sehanoui said that his ministry is currently negotiating with Cyprus to allow the passing of the cable through its waters.

The chairman of Internet Service Provider IDM Maroun Chammas told The Daily Star that of 13 gigabytes per second capacity available to Lebanon only 3 gb/s were currently accessible. Chammas said that the broadband capacity could be raised up to 11 gigabytes per second if negotiations with Cyprus succeeded.

Sehnaoui described the Internet blackout Wednesday as extensive.

“This is a very serious failure affecting some 350 links on IMEWE. Lebanon utilizes just two links,” Sehnaoui told The Daily Star Wednesday night, dismissing the possibility of completing repairs over the next 24 hours.

Lebanon, the minister said, was among the few nations that rely entirely on a single submarine cable for Internet connectivity. “The lack of a redundant route makes the country completely vulnerable to such blackouts.”

Sehnaoui added that his ministry would seek an urgent solution by linking Lebanon to Cyprus’ submarine Internet cables – ALEXANDROS and CADMOS – via the already existing cable infrastructure. But the temporary solution is unlikely to restore normal Internet connection speed and capacity.

A pre-scheduled upgrade conducted on IMEWE had caused a three-hour blackout Monday evening. But the maintenance works and the blackout Wednesday “are not at all related,” the minister said.

The Telecoms Ministry and Internet provider Ogero traded blame Tuesday over responsibility for informing the public about the planned works.





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