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Sea-me-we 4

The route of the submarine cable (red); the blue segment is terrestrial

South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) is an optical fibre submarine communications cable system that carries telecommunications between Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria and France.[1] It is intended to be a complement to, rather than a replacement for, the SEA-ME-WE 3 cable.

The cable is approximately 18,800 kilometres long, and provides the primary Internet backbone between South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Europe.[1][2]


  • Network topology 1
    • Segments 1.1
  • History 2
  • Outages 3
    • 30 January 2008 3.1
    • 19 December 2008 3.2
    • 14 April 2010 shunt fault 3.3
    • May 2010 fault 3.4
    • 5 July 2010 3.5
    • 11 May 2012 fault 3.6
    • 6 June 2012 fault 3.7
    • 15–20 November 2012 fault 3.8
    • 17 January 2013 fault 3.9
    • 21–25 January 2013 fault 3.10
    • 27 March 2013 fault 3.11
    • 25–28 December 2013 fault 3.12
    • 20 November - 18 December 2014 fault 3.13
    • 19 January 2015 fault 3.14
    • 4 February 2015 fault 3.15
    • 22 October 2015 fault 3.16
  • Management and administration 4
  • Applications 5
  • Technologies 6
  • Interception 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Network topology

The SEA-ME-WE 4 system is divided into four segments with seventeen landing points:[3]


Landing points


The SEA-ME-WE 4 cable system was developed by a consortium of 16 telecommunications companies which agreed to construct the project on 27 March 2004.[2] Construction of the system was carried out by Alcatel Submarine Networks (now a division of Alcatel-Lucent) and Fujitsu.[2] The eighteen month construction project was completed on 13 December 2005 with a cost estimate of US$500 million.[2][4] Segment 1 construction, running 8,000 kilometres from Singapore to India, was done by Fujitsu, which also provided the submarine repeater equipment for Segment 4.[4]


30 January 2008

On 30 January 2008, Internet services were widely disrupted in the Middle East and in the Indian subcontinent following damage to the SEA-ME-WE 4 and FLAG Telecom cables in the Mediterranean Sea. Disruptions of 70 percent in Egypt, and 60 percent in India were reported along with problems in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.[5][6] In India, small users felt the impact while ISPs could service large users who have more lucrative contracts.[7]

While the respective contributions of the two cable systems to this blackout is unclear, network outage graphs show anomalies at 0430 UTC and again at 0800 UTC.[8] The FALCON submarine communications cable was reported severed off the coast of Dubai in the Persian Gulf on 1 February 2008, making it the third over a two-day period.[9]

Though the cause of the damage to SEA-ME-WE 4 or FLAG has not been declared by either cable operator and 12 hours of video before and after the incident show no ships being in the area,[10] a number of sources speculate these were caused by a ship's anchor near Alexandria,[5][10] while the Kuwait government attributes the breaks to "weather conditions and maritime traffic".[11] The New York Times reported that the damage occurred to the two systems separately near Alexandria and Marseilles.[12] The water near Alexandria is restricted and Egypt knew of "no passing ships" at the time.[7]

For a number of days, SEA-ME-WE 3 was the only remaining cable connecting Europe to the Middle East via Egypt. Data transmission capacity between India and Europe was reduced by 75 percent, causing much of the traffic between these sites to be rerouted through the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.[9]

19 December 2008

On 19 December 2008, the cable was again severed, simultaneously with SEA-ME-WE 3, the FLAG FEA cable, and the GO-1 cable.[13][14] It was expected to be operating again by December 25.[15]

14 April 2010 shunt fault

On April 14 the cable had a shunt fault approximately 1,886 kilometers from Alexandria towards Palermo, Italy, on the segment between Alexandria and Marseille.[16][17]

May 2010 fault

Another cable fault, disrupting the connection between Malaysia, Mumbai and Europe.[18]

5 July 2010

Services between Mumbai and Mombasa were down from 9:19 GMT/5 July 2010.[19] Services in South Africa, all regions was also experienced and rerouting was experienced. On Mweb's website it was listed as ADSL Outage number 8084.[20]

11 May 2012 fault

The submarine cable South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SeaMeWe-4) was reportedly cut near Alexandria, disrupting internet services in Pakistan. Reportedly SMW4 was cut in April 2012 too, but was restored on the same day.[21][22]

6 June 2012 fault

On this day, at around 6.30pm (GMT+8), Sea-Me-We 4 had a cut near Singapore causing disruption to voice and internet services from Singapore and Malaysia to Bangladesh. Service disruption affected the eastern route into Bangladesh while western one is not affected. [23]

15–20 November 2012 fault

Over this week, Eastern Segment of SMW4 went down, maintenance work was performed in the eastern segment causing degraded internet in the Eastern part of the section and services were restored to normal on 20 November around 4:00PM (GMT+5). While western traffic was not affected.

17 January 2013 fault

On this day, at around 1:00PM (GMT+5), segment of SMW4 had gone down causing disruption to voice and internet services.

21–25 January 2013 fault

Over this week, maintenance work was performed between Malaysia and Thailand causing degraded internet in the Eastern part of the section. While western one is not affected.

27 March 2013 fault

A cut in the segment 4 of South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) submarine optical fiber cable on Wednesday morning (27 March 2013) has been reported leading to a degradation of internet speed by 60% in several countries including Pakistan[24] and Egypt.[25] A consortium of SEA-ME-WE-4 Cable System is working on the fault but they have not come up with a resolution time for this problem and confirmed nature of fault is yet to be determined[26]

Three men were arrested for trying to cut the cable near Alexandria.[27]

The issue was resolved on the 8 April 2013.

25–28 December 2013 fault

Fiber cut in SMW4 segment 3 (Egypt terrestrial path). Slow internet speeds throughout Pakistan according to a tweet[28] from a Pakistan telecom engineer.

20 November - 18 December 2014 fault

Fiber has a fault, according to a news article.[29] Unconfirmed reports claim that it was repaired on the 18th of December, although its effects were still being observed for at least several days more.

19 January 2015 fault

According to news articles,[30][31] this fiber had a technical issue. These reports claimed that this would be repaired within a week.

4 February 2015 fault

unconfirmed reports state that there was a severe line cut out in the Mediterranean, which is to be fixed by March 6

22 October 2015 fault

Fiber cut in SMW4 (Algeria Path), according to a news article.[32] "The internet access will be disrupted for several days in Algeria following a cut on a submarine cable linking Annaba (600 km east of Algiers) to Marseille ( south -eastern France), announced Thursday, October 22 Algeria Telecom in a statement". Unconfirmed reports on when it was due to be repaired, its effects were still being observed until 26 October.

Management and administration

The SEA-ME-WE 4 cable system was proposed and developed by the SEA-ME-WE 4 Consortium. The Consortium continues to maintain and operate the system. It comprises 16 telecommunications companies:[4][33]

The consortium is a [34]

Tata Communications previously Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL), India is the Network Administrator. For this purpose, Tata Comm has developed a state of the art Network Administration Software system which enables online request processing, job scheduling and report generation etc. This system will make the capacity management very efficient for bandwidth owners. This system is accessible online at Telekom Malaysia Berhad is the Central Billing Party.[1][35]


SEA-ME-WE 4 is used to carry "telephone, internet, multimedia and various broadband data applications".[2] The SEA-ME-WE 3 and the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable systems are intended to provide redundancy for each other.[2] The two cable systems are complementary, but separate, and 4 is not intended to replace 3.[2] Both derive from the same series of projects (SEA-ME-WE), but have different emphases. SEA-ME-WE 3 is far longer at 39,000 kilometres[36] (compare to SEA-ME-WE 4's 18,800 kilometres) and extends from Japan and Australia along the bottom of the Eurasian landmass to Ireland and Germany.[37] SEA-ME-WE 4 has a faster rate of data transmission at 1.28 Tbit/s against SEA-ME-WE 3's 0.96 Tbit/s.[36] SEA-ME-WE 3 provides connectivity to a greater number of countries over a greater distance, but SEA-ME-WE 4 provides far higher data transmission speeds intended to accommodate increasing demand for high-speed internet access in developing countries.[2]


The cable uses dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM),[1] allowing for increased communications capacity per fibre compared to fibres carrying non-multiplexed signals and also facilitates bidirectional communication within a single fibre. DWDM does this by multiplexing different wavelengths of laser light on a single optical fibre so that multiple optical carrier signals can be concurrently transmitted along that fibre. Two fibre pairs are used with each pair able to carry 64 carriers at 10 Gbit/s each.[4] This enables terabit per second speeds along the SEA-WE-ME 4 cable,[2] with a total capacity of 1.28 Tbit/s.[4] In Feb 2011 the consortium awarded contracts to upgrade submarine segments capacity to 40 Gbit/s per link, along with landing sites equipment capable of 100 Gbit/s for future needs.[38]


In August 2013 a major German newspaper claimed that an alliance of Western and Asian intelligence agencies has managed to tap into the cable. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest broadsheet newspaper, wrote that GCHQ has been leading the interception effort, supported by the National Security Agency, which is GCHQ’s American equivalent. The paper cited Edward Snowden as the source of the information.[39][40]

See also

Several other cable systems following a substantially similar route:


  1. ^ a b c d "About Us". SEA-ME-WE4 Network Administration System. Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited. 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "About SEA-WE-ME 4". South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4. Sri Lanka Telecom. Archived from the original on 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Cable System Configuration". South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4. Sri Lanka Telecom. Archived from the original on 2007-08-04. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Fujitsu Completes Construction of SEA-ME-WE 4 Submarine Cable Network". Fujitsu Press Release. Fujitsu. 2005-12-13. Archived from the original on 2007-03-17. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b "Severed cables disrupt Internet". BBC News. 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ The Associated Press (2008-02-01). "Cable Break Causes Wide Internet Outage". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  7. ^ a b Brauer, David (2008-02-04). "High-tech mystery: Are terrorists behind recent Internet disruptions?". (MinnPost). Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  8. ^ Zmijewski, Earl (2008-01-30). "Mediterranean Cable Break". Renesys Blog. Renesys. Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  9. ^ a b "New cable cut compounds net woes". BBC News Online (BBC). 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  10. ^ a b "Ships did not cause Internet cable damage". Khaleej Times Online. 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  11. ^ Agence France Press (2008-01-31). "Indian outsourcing sector hit by Internet disruption". Google News. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ Timmons, Heather (2008-01-31). "2 Communication Cables in the Mediterranean Are Cut". The New York Times.  
  13. ^ "Severed Cables in Mediterranean Disrupt Communication". Bloomberg. 2008-12-19. 
  14. ^ "GO submarine cable fault part of wider disruption between Italy and Egypt". Times of Malta. 2008-12-19. 
  15. ^ : Corporate Website of France Telecom-Orange
  16. ^ Etisalat warns of internet disruptions in UAE |
  17. ^ Web at a crawl as internet cable fails in Mediterranean
  18. ^
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^ Network Status Notices
  21. ^ SeaMeWe-4 damage disrupts Pakistan’s internet access
  22. ^ SMW4 Cut Causing Internet Disruption in Pakistan
  23. ^
  24. ^ Under Sea Cable Cut Slows Down Internet Across Pakistan
  25. ^ Undersea cable cut near Egypt slows down Internet in Africa, Middle East, South Asia — Tech News and Analysis
  26. ^ loss of signal on the SMW4 capacity
  27. ^ Three arrested for trying to cut undersea Internet cable - SlashGear
  28. ^ Fiber cut in Egypt
  29. ^ TM Warns Of Slow Internet Speeds Due To Fault In Submarine Cable
  30. ^ Glitch in submarine cable slows Bangladesh
  31. ^ Internet disrupted
  32. ^ [4]
  33. ^ a b "The Management Committee (MC)". South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4. Sri Lanka Telecom. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  34. ^ a b "Organization Structure". South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4. Sri Lanka Telecom. Archived from the original on 2007-08-04. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  35. ^ "Home page". SMW 4 Central Billing Party (CBP). Telekom Malaysia Berhad. Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  36. ^ a b "Mediterranean Cable Break". REACH : Network. Reach Global Services Limited. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  37. ^ "Cable System Configuration". South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3. Sri Lanka Telecom. Archived from the original on 2007-07-14. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  38. ^ Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena to conduct upgrades for SEA-ME-WE 4 cable system - FierceTelecom
  39. ^ Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28 August 2013 (accessed 30.8.2013)
  40. ^ John Goetz, Hans Leyendecker and Frederik Obermaier (28 August 2013). "British Officials Have Far-Reaching Access To Internet And Telephone Communications" (accessed 30.8.2013)

External links

  • South East Asia Middle East Western Europe 4 project website
  • SEA-ME-WE4 Network Administration System
  • Work begins to repair severed net(5 February 2008)
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