Technical damage of underground cables have resulted in a lack of Internet services in several cities and towns across Egypt on Tuesday morning, affecting many businesses, transactions and telecommunications nationwide.
In media announcements issued on Tuesday, the Minister of Communications, Atef Helmy claimed that three underground cables had been severed in an apparently coordinated effort in Giza, 6 of October City and Kafr al-Dawwar. These outages have reportedly affected large areas of Cairo and Alexandria as well.
Citing this minister, the private newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that these cables were deliberately severed in an act of sabotage.
However, the Reuters news agency, citing the chief of Egypt’s Telecommunications Regulation Authority, Hesham al-Alaiyli, reported that the cable was damaged and disabled due to a fire. This official added that the necessary repairs were underway.
According to Reuters, Helmy pointed out that the ministry’s technicians are working to resolve this problem, and that Internet services should be operating at 80% of their capacity by 1 pm and back to normal by 4 pm.
Vodafone employee Khaled Hegazy stated this morning that a cable belonging to the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) was also cut, which has negatively affected mobile and Internet service in Egypt.
Estimates provided by Cairo Portal news from telecommunications specialists suggest that that today’s financial losses – attributed to an inability to conduct electronic banking and financial transactions, the halting of the stock market, foreign trade, delays in customs and taxation, amongst other disturbances – may have cost well over LE1 billion in lost revenues associated with today’s Internet outage.
Meanwhile, all EgyptAir flights were delayed between one and two hours this morning due to the Internet outage. According to state-owned Al-Ahram Gate, after the earlier flights were delayed, Internet service resumed around noon, and flights are now expected to leave on time.
Egypt has more than 32 million Internet users nationwide, of a resident population of over 87 million.
Egypt has been subjected to several lengthy Internet outages, most notably in late January to early February 2008, when the maritime SEA-ME-WE4 and the FLAG Telecommunications cables were severed by a naval vessel’s anchor in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Alexandria.
Moreover, the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak had cut all Internet services during the 2011 uprising, from January 28 until February 1.
Since 2011, electricity outages attributed to a shortage of natural gas have negatively affected the availability, speed and quality of Internet services in many locales.