Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You Cut The Cable, you FOOL!

The recent undersea cable ‘cut’ had resulted in severe disruptions to internet and international phone services in MENA nations such as Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and other nations such as India and the Maldives. The cables carry over 70% of all data traffic between Europe and the Middle East.

According to the report, this is not the first time there has been a disruption in internet and international phone services in the Middle East. In January and February 2008, four undersea cables were damaged in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf.

The FLAG Europe-Asia and the SeaMeWe-4 near Alexandria, FLAG near the Dubai coast and FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran were all submarine cables that sustained damage earlier this year.

I have been involved in several major fiber and submarine (proud to say, satellite communications and earth station) installations, relocations as well as interruptions since managing IT & Telecom infrastructure projects.

With the fast-paced developments in Dubai, cable installations are increasingly vital for telecommunication networks. I may be fortunate or in certain circumtances, unfortunate to be part of this manic period. Looking back, it was a great experience after all.

Few years ago, I received an emergency call after midnite from a very upset voice. My sub-sub-contractor Pakistani man had inadvertently cut a major fiber optic network that connected more than 30 TV stations to the satellites! He was working on site excavation without consultant's or my approval during weekend.

The fiber ran through our new development project. Ironically, I was earlier involved in installing the same cable while working with the former company which then owned the earth station and media city.

As per Dubai laws, any persons who distrupt public order or destroy public property can be jailed immediately and in this circumstance, the managing director and project manager of the contractor, sub-contractor companies would be detained.
As the project manager on behalf of the developer, I was called to rectify the problem by coordinating with all relevant parties. I was panicking and did not know what to do for a while. My former colleague and boss had made sure I would not sleep as they would not sleep over next few days. Disaster management theory was now put into exercise.

I had to face not only the wrath from service provider but from its major clients as well. They lost the precious air time as their transmissions were cut off for several hours. Imagine one particular international TV station lost its transmission and the viewers only stared at blank screens all over the world while waiting the no.1 programme then, the arabic version of "Who wants to be a millionaire!"

Fortunately, we managed to re-install a temporary cable before morning by engaging a contractor company which had worked wonderfully with great precision. But the damage had been done.

Both the service provider company and its clients later claimed millions Dirham in loss and I had very tough time to write reports, meet the upset service provider bosses as well to work on compensation. It was a silly accident that occurs frequently as most sub-contractors are not disciplined and professional.
The episode gave me a very good lesson in managing consultants, contractors and sub-contractors, not to mention, in facing the wraths that costed millions. I survived for another day and become wiser to respond to such an emergency.
Unfortunately though, well maybe, fortunately for some disaster management experience, it was not the first and last one a sub sub contractor cut the same cable at the same area!

1 comment:

manlaksam said...

Di tempat ambo pula tiap-tiap minggu kabel talipon kena curi, kesian orang kampung tak boleh nak berhubung.......fool kuasa dua.