The Egyptian navy yesterday captured three scuba divers who were attempting to cut an undersea Internet cable, the AP reports. The military posted a photo of the three men, who were caught on a fishing boat near Alexandria in the Mediterranean Sea; it did not further have details on who they were or why they would have wanted to cut the cable. As ITWorld explains, the cable in question is the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (aka SMW4), a 12,500-mile long cable that runs from France to Singapore and touches Thailand, India, Italy, and other countries along the way.
ITWorld spoke with a research engineer with Renesys, a company that analyzes global Internet use, who says the SMW4 cable ceased operations at 6:20am GMT yesterday. His company observed outages in Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Saudi Arabia. If it was indeed an act of sabotage (ships and earthquakes have also been known to break cables), that's "just staggering," he says. Egypt Independent reports that the cut cable caused Internet services to drop 60%, but Telecom Egypt says service will be restored completely today. The Middle East has had problems with cut cables before.