India's vital outsourcing industry, which relies heavily on the Internet, struggled to overcome supply disruptions Thursday after damage to undersea cables in the Mediterranean.
Internet connections may take up to 15 days to return to normal, businesses said, adding that telecommunications in neighbouring Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were also affected.
"Information-technology companies, software companies and call centres that provide online services to the UK or the US East Coast are the worst affected," said Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India.
"Some of them are re-routing through the Pacific as a backup, but the voice quality and speed of traffic will be highly degraded," he said, adding this solution left operators with half their normal bandwidth.
Egyptian officials said Wednesday that an undersea communications cable had been cut, while in Kuwait the government said "weather conditions and maritime traffic" had damaged two cables, affecting most of the region.
The chairman of Quatrro BPO Solutions, an outsourcing company based in Gurgaon outside New Delhi, said it was using backup lines via satellite.
"Business has been affected but the larger units -- that forms 80 per cent of the industry -- have diverted their traffic. The remaining 20 per cent has been affected," Raman Roy said.
Bangladesh was also badly hit.
"The voice and data traffic bound for Europe and America is not working. It slowed down the internet services in the country," said an official from the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board.
"Most of the ISPs and call centers have been partially affected," he said.
Another Bangladesh provider, BDCom, said it was running at a quarter of its usual capacity.
"Our operations have slowed down. All the ISPs and call centres have also experienced similar problems," said Sabbir Ahmed Suman, BDCom director and a senior member of the Bangladesh Internet Service Providers Association.
Sri Lanka also faced a drastic drop in service quality, according to Sri Lanka Telecom, the country's largest Internet service provider.
It said there was no total breakdown in services, only poor bandwidth and slow line speeds. (AFP)
Indian outsourcing sector hit by Internet disruption