Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quake Shakes up Asia's Internet

Nearly all of Asia's earthquake-disrupted Internet service and 80 percent of its phone service was to be restored by noon Thursday, a Taiwanese official said following one of the largest telecommunications outages in years to hit Asia.

Lin Jen-hung, vice-general manager of Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Co also said that four ships with crews to repair the two undersea data transmission cables ruptured during Tuesday's powerful earthquake in Taiwan will arrive in the affected area on Jan 2.

The 6.7 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks on Tuesday night and Wednesday caused disruptions for major telecommunications operators from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea -- with ripple effects spreading beyond Asia.

In Hong Kong, a government statement said Thursday it would take at least five days to partially repair the damage to two undersea cables.

The government urged Internet users not to log onto overseas websites for unessential reasons.

People were also told not to repeatedly make non-urgent telephone calls to overseas numbers if earlier attempts failed.

A Hong Kong telecommunications official said all seven major cables serving the Chinese territory were affected, some severely.

"Six of them have been completely damaged and there is a remaining one with a limited capacity," Au Man-ho of the Telecommunications Authority told reporters.

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