Simultaneous break causes internet traffic jam


The internet came to a grinding halt for a large number of users in August when three out of four internet undersea cables linked to Vietnam quit functioning.


Viettel, the country’s largest internet provider, confirmed the they were the SEA’s Asia-America Gateway (AAG) and Intra Asia (TGN-IA) undersea cables, with breaks in both lines near the cable station in Hong Kong, and the SEA-ME-WE3 (SMW3) cable line, whose break was eventually determined to be between Perth and Singapore.


Accounting for 60 percent of the internet connection between Vietnam and the rest of the world, the AAG line is one of the longest submarine cables in the world, stretching more than 20,000 km across the Pacific Ocean.


While the TGN-IA cable is nearly a third of the length of the AAG line, it’s responsible for connecting five Asian countries and their territories including Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan and Hong Kong.


The final line, SMW3, connects the three regions of East Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe.


Up But Not Running


The incident in August was remarkable in that it involved the simultaneous breaking of all three submarine lines. Experts cited the tropical storms and typhoons that had recently passed through the area for the cause of the problem, but nothing was ever confirmed. In the past, shipping vessels, underwater salvage or even sharks have been blamed for damage to the undersea cables.


Repair to the cables lines takes months and contribute to an overall slow-down of the internet in most parts of Asia.


There’s no telling when another break will happen. Case in point: In November, the AAG line broke again — for the fifth time this year — just weeks after its last repair.


To read the other articles in this series, click on the following links:


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