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Emergency Measures In Hong Kong After Web Chaos

Ha Yung-kuen, acting director-general of telecommunications for Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority, points to a map showing cable systems in the South China Sea during a press conference in Hong Kong, 02 January 2007. Ha spoke on the situation of repairs in the Luzon Straits of telecommunication cables which are undergoing repair after an earthquake off Taiwan 26 December caused severe disruptions to digital telecommunciations in the region. AFP Photo by Mike Clarke.
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 02, 2007
Hong Kong telecom authorities assumed emergency powers Tuesday as firms faced Internet disruption on the first day back to work after an earthquake damaged regional undersea data cables. Telecom and Internet service providers sent the city's telecom authority OFTA hourly updates on service capacity as repair ships struggled to mend fibre optic cables severed in the Boxing Day quake off Taiwan.

"We put the emergency response system in place this morning as this was the first day that businesses and schools resumed operations after the Christmas and New Year holidays," said Ha Yung-kuen, OFTA's acting director general of telecommunications.

OFTA had received only 20 inquiries from Internet users by mid-morning, suggesting that services had not been hit as hard as had been feared.

By the close of business OFTA said traffic had moved smoothly and there had been no reports of serious congestion.

"The situation is better than we expected," Ha said, adding that Internet service providers had rerouted much of their traffic through land links with China and via satellite networks.

Ha said international phone calls, mobile services and fax lines were back to normal a week after the Boxing Day temblor ripped through submarine data cables in the Taiwan Straits.

The cables carry most of the region's digital traffic. All but one of the seven submarine links, which carry international data in and out of Hong Kong, snapped and Internet capacity was down to 70 percent.

"Service operators have said they will give priority to companies during business hours, so that means personal users will experience some delays," Ha said.

He added that smaller companies depending on bought-in Internet services rather than their own networks would suffer most.

He urged surfers to avoid accessing large overseas-based Web pages to conserve capacity.

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake sparked widespread communications disruption in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere. Knock-on problems occurred as far away as Australia.

One repair ship was already in the damage zone working on Hong Kong's cables, while another was in port receiving repairs for damage sustained in rough seas. Another four were on their way, Ha added.

"If we can get just one of the six broken cables back in service, Hong Kong's Internet capacity can be brought back to normal levels by the middle of this month," he said.

The rest would be repaired by the end of the month he added.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Scramble To Repair Telecom Lines Across Asia After Taiwan Quake
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 28, 2006
Millions of people across Asia suffered a second straight day without a full Internet service Thursday as telecoms operators raced to counter gloomy predictions of weeks without web access. Repair boats headed to the waters between Hong Kong and Taiwan so that engineers could assess how to fix underwater fibre-optic cables damaged in an earthquake off Taiwan on Tuesday.

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