Pakistan, a country of 170 million people, was facing a complete Internet blackout Tuesday as the SEAMEWE-3 (South East Asia, Middle East, and Western Europe), the country's only submarine fibre-link, was snapped about 50 miles off the coast of Karachi. Another contribution to the blackout was made by a power outage in one of the exchanges of PTCL, the country's main Internet provider.
A spokesman for ISPAK, the Internet Service Provider Association of Pakistan, said that the entire country was facing an Internet blackout after a problem occurred at PTCL's end. PTCL's spokesman said the company's engineers had located the fault and it would be rectified this morning. The spokesman also said it would be inaccurate to say that the entire country was facing an Internet blackout, as some Internet and voice traffic remained in operation through satellite. He did say that there was congestion in Internet traffic in Karachi and other parts of the country.
ISPAK officials and independent experts challenged both claims. They said that the company's engineers have not yet located the source of the problem, and the reports of Internet blackout are coming from all parts of the country. They said that the damage would take two weeks to repair. The complex repair work may require a complete shut down, distrupting communication in India, UAE, Djibouti, and Oman -- all linked by the damaged cable. A consortium of 92 countries owns the cable.
For more on Pakistan's Internet breakdown:
- see this report