Damaged Submarine Cables In Europe Affect Internet Connectivity Worldwide


Several submarine cables in the south of France were cut overnight, making Internet access unreliable worldwide.

Engineers have fixed one broken link, the investigation is ongoing. Russian submarines were pointed out because of the conflict in Ukraine, but investigators have not yet found any evidence to support this assumption.

On Wednesday evening, a serious incident with an underwater cable in the south of France caused massive problems with Internet connection. At 20:30 (UTC), at least three fiber optic cables were cut, which slowed down Internet access for users in Europe, Asia and the United States. Cloud companies quickly repaired the highway.

According to a report by Zscaler, a cloud security company, unexpected cable damage resulted in packet loss and increased latency for websites and applications passing through the affected paths. The company identified three non-working links: Marseille-Lyon, Marseille-Milan and Marseille-Barcelona. Zscaler made adjustments to the routing of Internet traffic where possible to mitigate the problem. However, in some cases, the actions were hindered by application and content providers who still used broken links.

In a later update posted at 1:03:15 UTC, Zscaler confirmed that workers had fixed one of the affected links, resulting in reduced packet loss and reduced latency for websites and internet applications. The remaining connections (probably Marseille-Milan and Marseille-Barcelona) were severed as a result of direct fiber testing. However, search operations to detect damaged sections of the underwater cable are still ongoing.

While Internet connectivity is gradually returning to normal, investigations are continuing at the local and global levels. The French authorities have collected evidence of the incident. At the same time, unrelated cable damage in the United Kingdom caused violent rumors that unknown Russian saboteurs may be involved in the cut lines.

The BBC also reported that an underwater cable connecting the Shetland Islands to Scotland was damaged around the same time as the incident in Southern France. The breakup left the Shetland Islands isolated from the rest of the world. The cut in the Shetland Islands occurred while technicians were still working to restore another cable connecting the Faroe Islands to the Shetland Islands, which was severed a week ago.

The probability of numerous incidents with the European underwater fiber-optic infrastructure is low. Hypothetical scenarios of damage by a Russian submarine to the global Internet infrastructure seem quite extreme. However, the current geopolitical crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine raises concerns about the Kremlin’s intervention.


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