Saturday Dec 30, 2006

Tw Earthquake creates Data/Voice Chaos for SE Asia

Millions of people remain disconnected from the Internet and long distance voice calling due to the recent earthquake in Taiwan.  The large earthquake which hit just after Christmas resulted in damage to multiple undersea cables which are concentrated offshore from Taiwan.

Once a powerful means to enable bandwidth to worldwide websites and communications, these cables were layed out in the Internet boom of the late 90's.  Companies such as GlobalCrossing and Level 3 Communications invested heavily in creating these trans-pacific data highways.  Since this boom, millions of users found themselves easy and cheap access to the Internet.  Millions also found a cheap source of communications to their loved ones and friends overseas through technologies which use these connections such as Instant Messaging and Voice Over IP. 

In addition to the Internet data which is carried on these undersea cables, telephone transmissions for Long Distance services has been effected.  Phone callers between the USA to places such as the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia found themselves faced with busy signals.  Phone operators reported back to users that they are working hard to reroute these transmissions to other cables, but still five days after the earthquake problems persist.  Connections remained slow in Malaysia and Thailand, where communications authority CAT Telecom said capacity had only been restored to 50 per cent.

Repair work for these cables requires technicians to don deep sea diving suits to assess the damage and begin repairs.  On land, telecoms operators across the South Eastern Asia region are working to re-route Internet links to circumvent the ruptured lines off the southern part of Taiwan.  Hong Kong's telecommunications authority said five maintenance ships had been dispatched to repair six fiber-optic cables, which handle about 90 per cent of telecommunications capacity in the area.

 

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