Ruptured Undersea Cables: Sabotage or Sea Monsters?

Four undersea communication cables have been cut in the past week, raising questions about the safety of the oceanic network that handles the bulk of the world’s Internet and telephone traffic. Most telecommunications experts and cable operators say that sabotage seems unlikely, but no one knows what damaged the cables or whether the incidents were related.

One theory – that a wayward ship traveling off course because of bad weather was responsible for cutting the first two cables last week – was dismissed by the Egyptian government over the weekend. No ships passed the area in the Mediterranean where the cables were located, the country’s Ministry of Communications said Sunday.

“This has been an eye-opener for us, and everyone in the telecom industry worldwide,” said Colonel R.S. Parihar, the secretary of the Internet Service Providers Association of India. Today, the cause of the problem may have been an anchor, “but what if it is sabotage tomorrow?” Parihar asked. “These are owned by private operators, and there are no governments or armies protecting these cables.”