New Delhi: India’s electronic ticketing and movie booking sites such as those run by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp. Ltd, or IRCTC, Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd, and PVR Ltd saw a slump in ticket sales a day after two undersea cables carrying telecom traffic were severed in the Mediterranean Sea, disrupting half the Internet and communication capacity serving India.
The government said it expected the cables to be repaired within 10 days. Traffic on the affected routes were being shifted to “other cables such as SMW-3 cable and Pacific route cables etc. to restore the telecommunication links,” it said in a statement. SMW-3 is the name of a cable connecting South-East Asia, West Asia and Europe.
Undersea optic fibre circuits, leased or owned by service providers such as Reliance Communications Ltd, or RCom, Bharti Airtel Ltd or the state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) were affected. Trade body Internet Service Providers Association of India estimated a 40-50% reduction in telecom bandwidth. The broken cables, owned by the RCom-controlled Flag Telecom Group, off the Egypt coast also affected services in that country and West Asia.
IRCTC, the online ticketing site for the Indian Railways that uses Net connectivity from MTNL, has seen a slowdown in the speed. “Since 3pm today, we have seen some fluctuation in connectivity but we are in touch with our service provider,” said a senior executive, who does not wanted to be identified. On average, the portal sells around 6,000 tickets an hour, but “that has dropped to between 1,400 and 2,400 tickets.”
MTNL leases around three-fourths of its bandwidth from Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or VSNL and the rest from RCom. While RCom has not restored services, VSNL has restored connectivity.
“Since this morning, 90% of our bandwidth is available for customers, which we have increased from VSNL,” said A. K. Arora, executive director at MTNL. He said RCom’s services are likely to be restored by 9pm Thursday, failing which “we will switch over completely to VSNL.”
Air ticketing portal Yatra.com has seen a 10-15% impact on volumes in the last 24 hours. It sells around 6,500 tickets a day, which, since last afternoon, has dropped to about 5,700. It is now routing traffic through Singapore. “We hope that with the alternative route, tomorrow morning our site should be back to normal,” said co-founder Dhruv Shringi.