North American Network Operators Group

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Re: [admin] Re: Fourth cable damaged in Middle Eest (Qatar to UAE)

  • From: Steve Gibbard
  • Date: Mon Feb 04 15:41:37 2008

On Mon, 4 Feb 2008, Kee Hinckley wrote:

Which leads me to my operational question.

If you know that someone wants to cut your cables. What defense do you have? Is there any practical way to monitor and protect an oceanic cable? Are there ways to build them that would make them less discoverable? Some way to provide redundancy? A non-physical solution involving underwater repeaters? Or is this like pipelines in Iraq?

The other answer is to be less dependent on the cables.

Some communications need to be long distance -- talking to a specific person in a far away place, setting up import/export deals, calling tech support -- but a lot don't. E-mailing or VOIP calling your neighbors, looking at web sites for local businesses, reading your local newspaper or accessing other local content, or telecommuting across town, all ought to be able to be done locally, without dependence on international infrastructure. Yet we keep seeing articles about outages of "Internet and long distance telephone" networks, implying that this Internet thing we've all been working on is pretty fragile compared to the old fashioned phone networks we've been trying to replace.

The report from Renesys ( looks at outages in connectivity to India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt. I'll assume that those areas probably did keep some local connectivity. India has its NIXI exchanges, although my understanding is that they're not as well used as one might hope. Saudi Arabia has a monopoly international transit provider, which should have the effect of keeping local traffic local. Egypt has an exchange point. I don't know about Pakistan or Kuwait. Unfortunately, little else works without DNS. Pakistan and India have DNS root servers, but Pakistan's .PK ccTLD is served entirely from the US. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt all have servers for their local ccTLDs, but do not have local root DNS servers. Of that list, only India has both the root and their ccTLD hosted locally.

And then there's the rest of the services people use. Being able to get to DNS doesn't help people talk to their neighbors if both they and their neighbors are using mail services in far away places, for instance.