Subsea cable group opens floodgates for new members

Matt Walker/Ovum
26 Oct 2010

As these networks have become crucial to world commerce, cable cuts have caused economic damage and brought the issue of resilience and security to the public’s attention.

To cope with this pressure, the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) recently broadened its base of prospective members. This reform may encourage an industry response to the next cable crisis, and better coordination of cyber security and anti-sabotage efforts.

The ICPC’s narrow focus on the cable owner constituency has limited its effectiveness

Founded by 10 members as the “Cable Damage Committee” in 1958, the ICPC had 103 members by mid-2010, representing submarine cable owners scattered across 58 countries.

The ICPC is accustomed to working behind the scenes, and members often know each other from years of working around the undersea “club”. However, a series of high-profile cable breaks in recent years, kicked off by cuts near Taiwan in December 2006, has brought the ICPC into the media’s spotlight.

Those desperate to get their network connectivity back, and fast, have searched for a responsible party to complain to. As researchers have measured the cost of network downtime in the billions of US dollars, this search has become especially aggressive.

This has highlighted two weaknesses in the organization. First, the ICPC has no practical authority over individual cable network operators.

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