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30 november, 2022
Underwater cables provide Internet all over the world and carry the vast majority of data. There are more than 550 cables that go along the seafloor. More than 100 accidents involving cutting underwater Internet cables happen worldwide every year. The most prominent reasons are as follows: navigation and ship anchors, environmental damage and recently acts of sabotage.
Sixteen of these 550 cables go through the Red Sea and Egypt. The Egyptian sector of the Internet cables is the most susceptible to disruptions.
The Asia-Africa-Europe-1 Internet cable (also known as AAE-1) is more than 15 thousand miles long. Of these 15 thousand, just over one thousand miles pass the Red Sea and Egypt. However, it is this area that is arguably the most dangerous for the global Internet.
According to WIRED, there are several reasons for that. 17 per cent of the global traffic travel through cables which go through Egypt, because it is the fastest and the most viable way from Asia to Europe. The Red Sea, in turn, is rather shallow. That is why, the Internet cables that lie on the seafloor can be cut either accidentally by ships sailing in the region or it can be done deliberately. The disruption in this sector thus can be much more dangerous than in other vulnerable for the Internet regions (such as the Malacca Strait, for example).
Another risk that the Egyptian sector poses is the dependency of the global Internet on the Egyptian authorities.
Alan Mauldin, the research director of telecoms market research firm TeleGeography, suggests that a way to reduce the vulnerability of Asia-Europe Internet traffic is to diversify cables.
Microsoft, Facebook and Google have already been spending millions of dollars on building their own cables.
Building more cables bypassing Egypt can indeed be a solution. Google announced construction of a subsea cable (Blue-Raman project) which will connect India to France. As AAE-1 the cable travels through the Red Sea, but instead of going to mainland Egypt, one part of it (Blue) goes via Israel to the Mediterranean Sea and the other (Raman) connects Saudi Arabia with India.
According to Mauldin, Google's cable will set a precedent for others to follow, while seafloor cables should be protected due to the reliance of the whole world on these cables.
It's super important for national security, for the economy, to keep this stuff up and running,
Ultimately, though, Egypt is bound to remain the centre of Asia and Europe's Internet connections.
30 november, 2022