Up to 90 percent of Armenia was cut off from the Internet for 12 hours on March 28 after a 75-year-old Georgian woman cut off a fiber-optic cable linking the neighbouring countries.The woman was arrested this week by Georgian police in Ksani, a village situated north of the country's capital Tbilisi, and was charged with destruction of property.
According to authorities, she was digging for scrap metal when finding the cable and she decided to cut it, thinking that it might contain copper wiring.
If found guilty of the charges, the woman faces up to three years in prison. "Taking into account her advancing years, she has been released pending the end of the investigation and subsequent trial," Georgian interior ministry spokesman Zura Gvenetadze said, according to the BBC.
The cable belongs to Georgian Railway Telecom and is critical to the country's Internet infrastructure.
As a result of the damage, 90 percent of home users and companies in Armenia were completely disconnected from the Internet, while some Georgian ISPs also experienced problems.
The company can't explain how the woman managed to find and cut the cable which has robust protection. A spokeswoman said that such incidents are extremely rare.
Despite that, in 2009 Georgian users suffered Internet connection problems as a result of a similar incident which involved a scavenger cutting a fiber-optic cable. Apparently, hunting for scrap metal is a popular activity amongst the poor population in Georgia.
However, Georgia is not the only country to experience such problems. In December 2008, three high-speed Internet cables passing through the Mediterranean were cut by ships, leaving 80% of Egypt disconnected from the net.
In April 2009, vandals cut off fiber-optic cables at four different underground access points in the southern San Francisco Bay Area, leaving tens of thousands of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and Comcast customers without Internet.