China scrambles to switch back on Internet services

Internet services in China will not be back to normal until mid-January after being disrupted by a powerful earthquake off Taiwan, a news report quoted by an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Internet and telephone services in China and many parts of Asia were cut by an earthquake, leaving telecommunications companies scrambling to repair damaged undersea cables and switch voice and data communications to satellites and undamaged cables.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified China Telecom official as saying Internet service would be back to normal on January 15, the report said.

'Five vessels have been dispatched to repair the damaged lines, 'the official was quoted as saying. 'But heavy seas have made the repair work very difficult.'

China Telecom said that by rerouting traffic through satellite transmissions and landline cables connecting China and Europe, about 70% of overseas Internet connections had been reconnected.

But the official was quoted as saying the link to North America would not be significantly improved until the undersea cables were repaired.

The magnitude 6.7 quake hit just off the Taiwanese town of Hengchun on December 26 the second anniversary of the devastating, earthquake-triggered tsunami that took more than 230,000 lives in a dozen countries, the report said.