India today reported half of its bandwidth was disrupted, causing knock-on effects for Britain and the US.Online service was cut off in many areas after two undersea cables were damaged off the Widespread outages were also hampering much of the Middle East.
Officials said it could take a week or more to fix the cables, as they scrambled to reroute traffic to satellites and to other cables through Asia.Users in India, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain were affected.
Israel was unaffected by the outages because its Internet traffic is connected to Europe through a different undersea cable. Lebanon was also operating normally.
The biggest impact to the rest of the rest of the world could come from the outages in India - where many US and European companies outsource back-office operations including customer service call centres.Such large-scale disruptions are rare but not unknown.
East Asia suffered nearly two months of outages and slow service after an earthquake damaged undersea cables near Taiwan in December 2006. That repair operation also was hampered by bad weather.
So far, most governments in the region appeared to be operating normally, apparently because they had switched to backup satellite systems.However, the outages had caused slowdown in traffic on Dubai's stock exchange.
In India, major outsourcing firms, such as Infosys and Wipro, and US companies such as IBM and Intel, said they were still trying to asses how their operations had been affected, if at all.
But the president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India, Rajesh Chharia, said companies that serve the East Coast of the United States and Britain had been badly hit."The companies that serve the US East coast and the UK are worst affected. The delay is very bad in some cases," he said.
"They have to arrange backup plans or they have to accept the poor quality for the time being until the fiber is restored.Chharia said some companies were re-routing their service through the Pacific route, bypassing the disrupted cables. He said roughly 50 per cent of the country's bandwidth had been affected.
It appeared the cables had been cut north of the port city of Alexandria, and rumors in Egypt said a ship's anchor had cut them.