Cable Cut Fever and the 'Fifth Cut'

Updates on coverage of the Middle East cable outages, including reports of a fifth cable cut.

In the fast and furious movement of news around the blogosphere, fact-checking and context sometimes get shortchanged. The telecom cable outages affecting the Middle East provide an example of this phenomena, as a legitimate infrastructure problem has been amplified and overlaid with conspiracy theories and geopolitical punditry. Ryan Singel at Wired's Threat Level blog seeks to sort out the latest headlines and bring some clarity and context to the story.

Ryan notes that the much-publicized fifth cable cut "turns out to be an unexceptional cable failure from weeks ago." Singel touches base with industry sources including TeleGeography's Stefan Beckert. An excerpt:

Only the first two cuts had any serious impact on the internet, says Beckert. Once those failures sensitized a conspiracy-happy net, it was natural that other cable failures would be found to feed the frenzy, because they occur all the time. "Cable cuts happen on average once every three days," Beckert said. There are 25 large ships that do nothing but fix cable cuts and bends, Beckert adds.

Nonetheless, network operators are eager to get more information once the repairs are finished, especially about the state of the cables, which may serve to either feed the rumors or put them to rest.