Issues with European subsea cables impact global internet connectivity

Two undersea internet cables in France and Scotland were damaged by cuts, resulting in the disruption of internet connectivity.

Scotland’s Shetland Islands, home to 22,000 people, completely lost access to the internet and landlines last night due to damage to undersea cables connecting the archipelago to the mainland.

“Police Scotland is aware that an outage is affecting some land and mobile lines on Shetland, including the internet. Engineers are working to restore services or divert services via other routes”, Scottish police said in a statement.

The situation is severe enough for the police to recommend physically coming to the station in case of an emergency or reaching out to officers inside on-duty patrol cars. The authorities also advised checking on the elderly and vulnerable.

Interestingly enough, the cables connecting the Shetland Islands to the outside world were damaged for the second week in a row. Last week, undersea cables connecting Shetland to the Faroe Islands were also impacted.

Loss of connectivity due to damaged undersea cables also resulted in banks suspending services on the island. Since the ATMs are not working, Shetlanders may be unable to access their funds.

While the investigation to uncover how the cables were damaged is underway, some have pointed out that it highly unusual for two subsea cables is to suffer accidental damage in such a short period.

Reports of severe damage to undersea cables also came from a different part of Europe earlier this week. Cloud security company Zscaler reported that a cable cut impacted several continents.

“We are aware of a major cable cut in the South of France that has impacted major subsea cables with connectivity to Asia, Europe, US and potentially other parts of the world,” the company said.

Tensions between NATO and Russia are high after Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24, prompting speculation that the undersea cables’ damage wasn’t accidental.

Fears of undersea sabotage grew after several explosions took out the Nord Stream pipeline in September. The multi-billion-dollar project connected Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea, supplying Berlin with natural gas. No party has taken responsibility for the event.

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