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Internet Resumption Still Shaky After Taiwan Quake

Hong Kong businesses to return to Internet chaos
Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 1 - Hong Kong businesses were facing crippling congestion over vital Internet links as they prepared to return for the first full working day since the Boxing day Taiwan quake disrupted Asia's digital communications links. A government statement said that while mobile and roaming phone services in the southern Chinese city were all but back to normal, access to overseas Internet sites was still slow and troublesome. "On data services, overall there has been improvement in access to the Internet but most users will continue to experience slow access," a government statement said Monday night.

"As most businesses and schools will resume operation (Tuesday), Internet users visiting overseas web sites may experience slow response or congestion," it added, stressing that users should try to avoid surfing the web unless necessary. Almost a week after the Boxing Day temblor snapped submarine fibre optic cables in the Taiwan Straits that carry most of the region's digital data, repair ships were busy trying to put the worst-hit regions bqack online.

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake sparked widespread communications disruption in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere. Knock-on problems occurred as far away as Australia. The government's Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) said IDD and roaming calls from Hong Kong to all countries had almost fully recovered as had calling card calls from overseas, fax calls, local telecommunications services and communications with the Mainland and Macau.

by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 01, 2007
Authorities in Hong Kong warned of Internet and email congestion when businesses reopen Tuesday after the festive break as workers scramble to repair undersea cables hit by a quake last week. Repairs to the data cables will be completed progressively until the end of January, Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority said.

While many Internet links have been restored since the 7.1-magnitude quake off Taiwan's coast last Tuesday, access remains slow in many areas.

Exacerbating the delay in getting services back to normal is a major fault on one of two repair ships despatched to the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines to fix the cables.

The ship had to be sent back to port for urgent repairs of its own and is expected to be out of action for a week.

"As most businesses and schools (staff) will resume operations (Tuesday), Internet users visiting overseas websites may experience slow response or congestion," the Hong Kong authority said in a statement.

"Emails to and from overseas servers, especially those with large files such as images, will take a longer time than usual to reach destinations."

It urged users to avoid all non-essential activities to and from overseas sites.

Telephone and Internet traffic in many parts of Asia was severely disrupted by the quake, which also killed two people on Taiwan, and highlighted growing dependence on the web for everything from business to blogging.

Efforts to circumvent the damage by funnelling data through alternative routes have eased some of the communication woes, however.

Taiwan's largest operator, Chunghwa Telecom, said three boats contracted to repair the fiber-optic undersea cables were en route to the scene, with the first due to arrive Tuesday and the second a day later.

Deputy general manager Lin Jen-hon estimated the repair of the four damaged spots could be completed by January 19.

Lin said Chunghwa Telecom had restored much of its service by re-routing of networks.

Voice lines to Europe, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand are back to normal while lines to the Philippines and India are 50 percent of the normal levels, Lin added.

An unnnamed official at China Telecom said telecommunication and Internet connections would not be fully restored until January 15, the Beijing Times reported Monday.

The newspaper said that as of Sunday morning, China Telecom's voice services had returned to full capacity, whereas Internet connections were at 70 percent of usual capacity.

In Bangkok, the communications authority CAT Telecom said that it expected an improvement by mid-January if Taiwan managed to fix Thailand's main link.

"Internet access in Thailand is still as bad as the first day that they experienced the crash but I hope after they repair the underwater cable on January 14, it'll improve," said Suthas Lertnapapan, vice president for international networks at CAT Telecom.

"Internet links to the Pacific rim from Thailand are only working to Hong Kong but totally cut to South Korea," he added.

"However, I think that when business re-opens on January 3, the situation will improve."

earlier related report
Setback for Asia Internet repairs
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 31 - Repairs to Asia's slow Internet, damaged by an earthquake that ripped through key undersea data cables, have been postponed because of a major fault on a ship sent to the fix the problem, officials said Sunday.

One of two repair ships that laid anchor in the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines above the damaged lines experienced a major fault Saturday, Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority said.

The ship is now in Taiwan and will take about seven days to fix, the authority said in a statement, pushing back the estimate for initial repairs to one of the cable systems by a week.

"It is estimated that the first part of the repair of a submarine cable system would be completed around 16 January 2007," the statement said, revising the estimate from January 9.

"For the other damaged cables, survey and assessment are being arranged and repair of most of the cables is expected to be completed progressively by the end of January 2007."

The authority said Saturday that three other ships were steaming to the location of the damaged cables.

It reported continued improvement in telephone services Sunday but warned Web users to expect slower than normal surfing speeds.

Telephone and Internet traffic in many parts of Asia was severely disrupted by the 7.1-magnitude quake off the coast of Taiwan, which killed two people on the island.

Millions were left pining for their e-mails and clutching unresponsive telephones, but moves to circumvent the damage by funnelling data through alternative routes have eased some of the communication woes.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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The Internet -- A Fragile System Threatened By Natural Disaster
Paris (AFP) Jan 01, 2007
The earthquake off Taiwan last Tuesday that shattered Internet connections for millions in Asia demonstrated starkly how vulnerable the vital network is to interruptions. Only a comprehensive backup system in the infrastructure could prevent total paralysis, specialists warn.

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