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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 15:48 GMT
Disruption after web cables cut
Indian call centre workers
The outsourcing industry has so far seen few problems
Firms across the Middle East, India and Bangladesh are experiencing disruption after undersea broadband cables were damaged between Egypt and Italy.

India is home to an $11bn (5.5bn) outsourcing industry, but UK firms say they have so far seen little impact.

The disruption looks set to continue, with repairs to take another week, and after another broadband cable was cut between the UAE and Oman.

British Telecom said it was able to quickly re-route its data.

The company said it has network monitoring centres around the globe which quickly alerted it to the problems.

Because the internet is down, it means we are cut off from the head office
Vikas Jain, AEZ Group

"All in all we didn't have a major impact," Sridhar Sriramaneni, vice president of support services at Knoah Solutions, told the BBC.

His firm has clients in the UK.

"We had a minor impact for 30 minutes to an hour. We've experienced slowness."

India's banks and stock exchange also experienced problems on Thursday.

Up to 60% of India's 50 million internet users, both individuals and companies, were affected.

India's IT industry employs 700,000, who work for companies that provide a range of services - from answering customer queries to analysing equity markets - to global clients.

Back up

Most of the big outsourcing firms have back-up plans in place that allow them to quickly restore services.

But they could still experience some small problems says Eric Schoonover, director of research at TeleGeography.

"The emergency routes they are using are not as reliable," he said.

"The phone quality could be lower and there could be a slight delay."

For smaller firms that don't have contingency plans the patchy internet access has proved to be a big headache.

Saudi Arabian men browse the internet
Internet outages have hit businesses and home use

"We have a lot of offices connected by the net so because the internet is down means we are cut off from the head office," said Vikas Jain, assistant vice president at AEZ Group, a real estate developer.

"We are facing a lot of problems."

In December 2006, seven of the eight cables connected to Taiwan were damaged by an earthquake, disrupting communications in much of Asia.

These cables took several months to fully repair.

Repair ship

A repair ship is expected to arrive on Tuesday to the site of the severed cables off the northern coast of Egypt to begin work on the damage .

The cable should be repaired within a week of the ship's arrival, Flag Telecom said.

Another repair ship has been notified of the damage near Dubai, on the cable between UAE and Oman.

The cause of the damage has not been officially confirmed but is thought to be related to a tanker dragging its anchor along the sea bed.

Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology said that the internet service would be up and running there at about 80% of its usual capacity within 48 hours.

He'd earlier said that this level would be restored by late on Friday.

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