Workers use 'old' technology to fix hi-tech problem in Asia

Workers are relying on 19th century technology to fix a very 21st century problem, the- disruption of the Internet traffic that tech-savvy Asia relies on, an AFP report said.

The AFP report said crewmen on boats south of Taiwan are dragging the seabed with grappling hooks at the end of long ropes to recover fibre optic cables damaged in a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the region on December 26.

The AFP report quoted John Walters, general manager of Global Marine, one of the firms engaged in the repairs, as saying that the ongoing repairs have 'no electronics involved,' and that the process used is 'an old and traditional technique.'

Millions of people across the region, in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and as far away as Australia, suffered Internet and telephone blackouts when the cables, linking Asian countries with the US and beyond, were damaged, the AFP report said.

Telecom operators have diverted the traffic to allow service to return to normal but the repair work continues.

'At this point none of those cables have been repaired,' Walters told AFP in an interview.

'We are talking about cable that's lying on the surface of the seabed down to about 4,000 meters.'

The AFP report further said Global Marine has two ships in the Bashi Channel and Luzon Strait area, between Taiwan and the Philippines, while other firms have provided four more ships, he said.

The vessels, specially designed to repair submarine cables, are more than 100 meters long and carry about 60 British officers and Filipino crewmen, he said.

They work 24 hours a day but the weather can hinder their progress.