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It remains unclear exactly how any of the cuts occurred.|
It also was unclear whether FLAG knew what vessel the anchor belonged to. Rough weather was reported nearby at the time of the cut, but conditions have improved since.
Meanwhile, a second FLAG repair ship continued work on two undersea cables that were cut Jan. 30. They are about 5 miles off the north coast of Egypt, near the port city of Alexandria, and run between Egypt and Palermo, on the Italian island of Sicily.
Repairs at both locations are expected to be done by Sunday.
One of the two Mediterranean cables was owned by FLAG. The other, identified as SEA-ME-WE 4, or South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 cable, was owned by a consortium of 16 international telecommunication companies.
Egypt's telecommunication ministry said no ships were registered near the location at the time.
The cuts slowed businesses, hampered personal Internet usage and caused a flurry of Internet blogger speculation, including mentions of sabotage. Government authorities and FLAG, which stands for Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe, have refused to comment on the speculation.
Reports of additional cuts in Middle East Internet cables could not be confirmed.
FLAG, in a statement posted on the company Web site, said it has surveyed the cable cut off Egypt with remotely operated robots.
The FLAG spokesman said this week that it was laying a new cable underwater between Egypt and France that would be "fully resilient" against cuts such as last week's and "provide a diversity in routes."
He did not say what that resilience entailed, but said it would take months to set up the new cable.
"It is difficult to comment right now on this," said a FLAG spokesman, reached over the telephone. "We are doing our own investigation."
He spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with company policy.
Ovum analyst Matt Walker said undersea cable networks are highly vulnerable to deliberate attack and need enhanced security.
"If ports, railways, gas pipelines and other types of networks are being secured against possible sabotage, we must similarly increase the security of undersea optical highways," Walker said.
The cuts also underlined the threats that Internet disruptions could pose to organizations and businesses worldwide. Large-scale Internet disruptions are rare, but East Asia suffered nearly two months of outages and slow service after an earthquake damaged undersea cables near Taiwan in December 2006.