tien_dm on Fri, 29 Dec 2006 06:24:12 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Asia's Cyber-tsunami, The day that the internet stopped, again.

Hello Nettime,

You might have heard. On Tuesday night (26 Dec)a series of earthquake in 
Taiwan snapped underwater cables connecting Hong Kong, Taiwan and China 
to North America, Japan and Korea. (About 5 cables were damaged 
including the APCN2 and Sea-Me-We3 lines)Thus disrupting the internet 
phone services, internet access, slow e-mail traffic (or zero-e-mail 
traffic for some places).

According to the Chunghwa Telecom Co. and Singapore Telecommunications 
Ltd. , it may need weeks to resume full Internet and phone services in 
Asia. I shuddered in fear when I heard this.

This is the biggest technological disaster which affected the whole of 
Asia-Pacific. With some news headlines calling this event the 
Cyber-tsunami (what the?)

Ironically, few weeks ago, the Singapore government was offering Free 
Island-Wide WIFI services for all Singaporeans.

Now with all the WIFI we got, we are still stumped by the stark reality 
of the Internet. Internet is made up of physical Internet cables and 
vulnerable to earthquakes, shark bites and fishermen.

For the record, it was not too long ago, a similar incident happened. On 
21st Sept 1999 where earthquakes in Taiwan snapped the Asian Pacific 
Cable Network (APCN)which resulted in an Internet Outage outage of 9½ 
hours in Singapore and countries sharing this cable. (An incident which 
became a starting point for alpha series net artwork by tsunamii.net.)

History does repeats itself.

This time I am amused by the corporate charade performed by the Internet 
providers, underwater scenes of divers fixing the cable and news of 
distraught Internet users big and small.

Lastly, it is not accurate to call this a total communication breakdown. 
The Internet outage transformed Singapore into a National Intranet so 
locally hosted sites rule for the day. Not sure how it is for other 
affected countries.

Below is the latest news from Channel News Asia on the quake and the 
Internet situation. On the site you can also find a short video footage 
of underwater divers fixing cables. An image of engineers in a server 
farm looking busy or re-routing traffic.

Woon Tien Wei

 From URL: 

Telecoms services in Asia could take weeks to fully return
By Channel NewsAsia's Taiwan Correspondent, Ken Teh | Posted: 28 
December 2006 2215 hrs

TAIPEI: Telecommunications companies across Asia are scrambling to 
repair and reroute voice and data traffic after Tuesday's earthquake off 
Taiwan damaged critical undersea fibre optic lines, causing the region's 
biggest telecoms disruption in recent years.

Failed international calls in Taipei, sluggish internet speeds from 
Singapore to Seoul are all part of an Asian-wide telecoms blight that 
has left some areas languishing in a virtual pre-Internet era.

Businesses ranging from banks to boutiques have been affected by the 

In Taiwan's stock market, trading volumes dropped and brokers faced 
problems getting updated stock prices.

Hsu Ren Xiang, Taiwanese Dealer, says: "Yesterday morning, callers from 
Mainland China couldn't get through. This affected orders and 
(international) transactions fell by 20 percent."

Even retailers have been affected.

Many customers face problems paying with international credit cards, 
which require phone lines to confirm transactions.

The telecoms fallout was triggered by Tuesday's 7.1 magnitude earthquake 
in Taiwan that damaged several undersea fibre optic cables.

These cables carry voice and data traffic between Taiwan and the rest of 
the world.

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's largest phone company, has deployed four 
cable ships to fix the damaged lines and repairs could take as long as 
three weeks.

It put revenue losses caused by Tuesday's quake at around US$3 million.

Lin Jen-hung, Vice-General Manager, Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Company, 
says: "There are four damaged undersea cables. Re-construction is 
underway. By next week, there will be at least three crews working in 
the South-eastern sea of Pingdong."

With repairs being made and traffic rerouted, Chunghwa Telecom says it 
has restored some 70 percent of its international call capacity and its 
data lines to Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia are 
almost back to normal.

Experts say the communications chaos has shown up the fragility of 
Asia's oceanic cable network.

The bottlenecks also highlight the need for more such cables in Asia to 
prevent similar catastrophes.

Above all, this recent fallout shatters the supposed invulnerability of 
the internet to withstand large-scale disasters. - CNA/so

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