Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Internet and telephone communications between the Middle East and Europe were disrupted by submarine cable failures between Italy and Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea.
The failures cut the flow of ``data of various kinds'' between Europe and the Middle East, and there's no timeframe for when communications will be restored, said Sanjeev Gaur, director of assurance at Mumbai-based Reliance Globalcom Ltd.
Three submarine cable systems linking Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe are affected, according to Reliance and Melbourne-based Telstra Corp. The cables run from Alexandria in northern Egypt to southern Italy. In January, two cable systems were severed by an anchor 8.3 kilometers (5.2 miles) from Alexandria beach after bad weather conditions forced ships to moor off the coast.
``Customer services and some mobile-phone customers'' at Vodafone Group Plc's Egyptian unit are affected by the cable failure, said Simon Gordon, a spokesman for the U.K. company. Egypt is the only country where the company is aware of any problems linked to the failure, he said. Most mobile-phone calls are routed through fixed-line cables at some point.
Portugal Telecom SGPS SA, Portugal's biggest phone company, has redirected traffic through other cables in the region and therefore the ``impact is very small,'' said a company official.
A fault is affecting the SMW4 cable near the Alexandria cable station, the FLAG FEA cable is down and the SMW3 cable system is also affected, according to information received from Telstra. Flag Telecom Group Ltd., a Reliance Globalcom unit, operates FLAG FEA and the other cables are owned by groups of phone companies across the regions.
Mark Heraghty, senior vice president responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Flag Telecom, declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.
Reliance Globalcom doesn't know exactly what happened and engineers are working on the problem, said Anurag Joshi, head of the company's global network operations center.
The SMW4 cable, also known as SEA-ME-WE 4 or South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 cable network, connects 12 countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and France.