Pakistan’s only fiber-optic link to the rest of the world was cut Monday night and we’ve been suffering for three whole days now. The whole country’s traffic is going through a backup satellite link which is fully choked at the moment.
Though international communication is still possible, it is terribly slow. A test email I sent to my Gmail address took about 4 hours to deliver and even plain-text browsing is very slow.
According to this BBC article, it would have taken upto 24 hours just for the repair crew to reach the submarine cable from UAE (Pakistan doesn’t have the required tech to repair it). The rumour is, it might not be fixed till the next weekend.
Even a few days of downtime is an eternity in Internet time and I shudder to think how much loss businesses and the country have suffered because of this and will continue to suffer. Considering that Pakistan is becoming more and more Net-savvy and is trying to attract major outsourcing projects, a single point of failure really is inexcusable.
Land links through neighbouring countries (Iran, Afghanistan, China and India) might not be possible to deploy due to political or geographical reasons (Pakistan is surrounded by deserts, huge mountain ranges and inhospitable terrain), but they could always have another undersea cable. Unfortunately, it usually takes a failure like this before something concrete is put in place.