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Internet Slowdown Continues to Hamper India


India is continuing to suffer from sluggish Internet service, although the situation has improved somewhat since damage to undersea cables in the Mediterranean caused widespread net disruptions. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi that the disruption has hit countries from Egypt to Bangladesh.

India's international communications improved to a degree Friday after service providers began diverting Internet traffic through alternative routes.

The outages began after two cables on the ocean floor off the coast of Egypt were cut, disrupting service through the Middle East and South Asia.

Internet service providers in India said they initially experienced a 50 percent cut in bandwidth, leaving many Information Technology companies, call centers and other businesses to struggle with sluggish communications.

Traffic bound for the United States and Europe was particularly hard hit.

R.S. Perhar is secretary of the Internet Service Providers Association of India. He says telecommunications providers are scrambling to find working systems.

"Fair amount of activity is one of moving the traffic on to service providers whose fiber systems are functioning…so that they can switch the traffic on to the systems which are working," he said.

Service providers say it could take up to a week to restore normal service.

Much of modern day communication is dependent on fiber optic cables that lie on the ocean floor, carrying the world's phone and Internet traffic.

Phone and net linkages to the West are the lifeline for India's IT companies and call centers, which provide foreign companies such services as customer support and other back office operations. While the bigger Indian companies have sophisticated back-up systems, many smaller companies rely on local service providers for their communications.

The most recent disruption of telecoms systems occurred in December 2006 when an earthquake damaged undersea cables off Taiwan and the Philippines, severely slowing communications between Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.

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