Algeria’s ICT minister Houda-Imane Feraoun has revealed at a plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) that Algerie Telecom (AT) is likely to secure a compensation for losses amounting to DZD600 million (USD5.6 million) caused by the 2015 cut in the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable linking the city of Annaba, Algeria to Marseille, France. The official said: ‘Algerie Telecom, which had supported the repair of the submarine cable connecting Annaba to Marseille will be compensated under a court order, by the ship responsible for the disconnection, due to its berthing at an improper place.’ The 20,000km SEA-ME-WE-4 cable, which is said to carry roughly 80% of Algeria’s international traffic, was damaged for almost a week in October 2015.
Figure 3 - SEA-ME-WE-4 Cable Map
Source: SEA-ME-WE-4 Consortium
Source : Submarine Cable News
ANALYSIS: The cable break in question was highlighted in Issue #32 (October 2015) of this report, as was the lack of restoration routes available to Algérie Télécom despite the availability of a private cable, Med-Link, built by Orascom and now owned by Russian mobile operator, Vimpelcom.
On the face of it, much of the responsibility for the disruption to Algeria's telecom services at this time must lie with Algérie Télécom for not arranging sufficient redundancy. The situation for AT was also worsened by the CEO's promise to compensate subscribers. This is an unusual statement to make since residential Internet is delivered on a "best efforts" basis and, while it could be argued that AT should have had restoration arrangements in place, it would be difficult for even business customers to claim that this was not a "force majeure" situation.
Nevertheless, according to FleetMon (www.fleetmon.com), on April 5, 2016, a court in Annaba, Algeria found the Master of the bulk carrier, POAVOSA ACE, in violation of navigational regulations and guilty of destruction of property of strategic importance by cutting the fiber optic cable (presumably by anchoring in a prohibited place) between Annaba and Marseille, and sentenced him to 6 months in prison, plus a €406 fine. Slim pickings for subscribers seeking compensation.
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Julian Rawle, Author
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