When I first saw the news about a damaged undersea cable near Egypt that not only knocked out Internet access in the Middle East but also affected connectivity in India, I wondered about its impact on that country's outsourcing business.
Turns out I wasn't the only one.
An Associated Press story about the outages published in USA Today notes that at least some businesses with a heavy Indian presence, including Symantec, are experiencing slowdowns. "... The system is very slow," a Symantec systems engineer tells the AP, adding that the company hasn't been given any idea of when normal connectivity will resume.
It's less clear how the problem is affecting service providers like IBM, Infosys and Wipro, although the president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India says companies that serve the East Coast of the U.S. and Britain were "badly hit." He says:
The delay is very bad in some cases. They have to arrange backup plans or they have to accept the poor quality for the time being until the fiber is restored.
Some companies are bypassing the damaged cable by rerouting network traffic to cables elsewhere in Asia and/or to satellites. Bad weather and rough seas are making it difficult for repair crews to reach the cable, according to the story. Once crews arrive, it will likely take at least a week to complete repairs.
Though authorities have ruled out terrorism as the cause, the incident has demonstrated how easy it might be to take out mission-critical networks, says a security expert interviewed in the article.
It also illustrates the growing importance of a strong Internet infrastructure to conducting business in today's global economy. India lagged behind other countries in a recent ranking of how well countries employ connectivity to boost their social and economic prosperity. The London Business School professor who designed the ranking expects that to change, however, because of the growing influence of India's "better-educated, younger workforce."