Pakistan Internet link repairs to take three days

Pakistan's data and Internet links with the outside world will be affected until at least the weekend as repairs are carried out on a faulty undersea fibre-optic cable, telecommunications officials said on Wednesday.

The cable developed a fault late on Monday, cutting the country's international data links, including the Internet, and causing chaos for businesses across the country. Satellite back-up systems were brought on-stream on Wednesday, restoring some Internet access.

"Data connectivity will not be as fast as it normally is but we've provided satellite back-up," said Mashkoor Hussain, vice president of operations at Pakistan Telecommunication, which operates the data link. Telephone links had not been affected, he said.

"Two satellite back-up systems have been provided from 9 a.m. (0400 GMT) to ensure that banks and other businesses like airline ticketing can be provided with Internet data facilities as normal as possible," he said.

Hussain said an attempt to repair the cable -- Pakistan's sole international cable Internet link -- early on Wednesday had failed.

A repair ship from the company that laid the cable was due to set off from Dubai on Wednesday afternoon and it should reach the site, about 50 km off the coast, on Thursday afternoon. Repair work was then expected to take 48 hours, he said.

"The repair work is major, the cable will have to be taken out and repaired," another PTCL official said.

Hussain said the repairs would not have an impact on neighbouring countries, including India, which are also linked up to the faulty cable. Those countries had back-up cables, he said.

One Internet service provider said PTCL had provided them with some bandwidth but it far from sufficient and customers were complaining it was almost useless.

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