After the typhoon, quake slows Asian net access to a crawl

A week after Typhoon Morakot hit internet connectivity in east Asia, a major earthquake off Taiwan has now drastically slowed internet service.
 
The quake off Taiwan’s east coast on Monday morning cut has cut multiple cables, industry sources said, including the FNAL/RNAL and the EAC cable systems, which link Hong Kong to Japan.
 
The outages echo the virtual shutdown of regional internet connectivity in December 2006, when a huge earthquake sliced six submarine cables off Taiwan’s southern coast.
 
Monday’s quake, which measured 6.5 on the Richter scale, has severely restricted access to foreign websites from Hong Kong and mainland China for much of the past two days.
 
In a poll on the sina.com website on Tuesday afternoon, 46.2% said they could not access any foreign websites and another 37.0% said the bandwidth speeds were “very slow”. Popular apps and websites like MSN and Yahoo were unavailable for much of the period, users complained.
 
China’s biggest fixed-line carrier, China Telecom said it had experienced “a series of breaks” in subsea capacity off Taiwan. By noon Tuesday it had recovered to 60% of lost capacity. It was working with other international operators and expected to have 75% restored by today or Thursday.
 
China Unicom said yesterday it had restored about three-quarters of capacity lost through break in FNAL/RNAL system, owned jointly by Flag and Reach. It said in a statement that it hoped services would be fully restored “within a week or so.”
 
Flag declined to comment. A Reach official said the company was using “interlink infrastructure” on APCN2, built after the 2006 quake, to restore circuits.
 
Hong Kong-based Pacnet also said its two regional cables, EAC and C2C, had both suffered multiple outages. COO Wilfred Kwan said the extent of the damage was unclear and could take up to a month to repair.
 
PCCW, Hong Kong’s biggest ISP, said “multiple submarine cable faults” had occurred but could not say when they would be repaired.
 
Andrew Kwok, vice-president at Hong Kong’s HGC, said “several cables [have been] affected one by one.” However, with the seabed roiled by the quake and the bad weather, “it seems it is a moving target after restoration.”
 
The earthquake came in the wake of Typhoon Marakot on August 9, which also cut cable systems in the cable-intensive seabeds off Taiwan. 
 
Mainland telecom website CCIDcom.com said nine cables used by China Telecom had been hit by the bad weather and the quake.

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