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.
Although stock markets in the region functioned normally, access to overseas websites remained patchy, as did dialling telephone numbers across southeast Asia and in the United States.
"Our system is gradually recovering," leading Japanese provider NTT Communications said, explaining that it had re-routed much of its data transmission away from the troubled Taiwan route.
"However, for certain customers it will take a longer time for full restoration, as it may require a complete reinstallation of cables."
The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit late Tuesday sparked widespread communications disruption Wednesday in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere. Knock-on problems occurred as far away as Australia.
Millions of people dependent on the Internet for news, stock prices and e-mail were reminded of life before the World Wide Web.
Telecommunications operators in Taiwan and Hong Kong warned that completely solving the problem could take three weeks.
Taiwan's largest phone company, Chunghwa Telecom, has contracted three boats from Britain, Japan and Singapore to take workers to the zone early next week, said deputy general manager Lin Jen-hon.
Lin said seven or eight troublespots needed attention, adding that efforts would be made to divert Internet links with the support of foreign service providers until the ruptured cables could be repaired.
Chunghwa put losses since Tuesday's quake, which killed two people on the island, at 150 million Taiwan dollars (4.6 million US).
Hong Kong's telecommunications authority said five maintenance ships had been sent out to repair the cables, which handle about 90 percent of capacity in the area.
International landline calling and roaming mobile services in the southern Chinese territory were returning to normal Thursday, but the authority said full repairs could take up to a week.
China Telecom, the country's largest fixed-line carrier, said six undersea cables were cut off 15 kilometers from the south of Taiwan, causing severe Internet congestion on the mainland.
China's Ministry of Information Industry, its Internet regulator, and major telecom operators have started emergency action to overcome the difficulties, Xinhua news agency said.
Global banking giant HSBC said Thursday its internet service had been affected and it was working to restore service to customers via alternative connections.
Indonesia called on people to limit their Internet use to give priority to aid workers after floods killed more than 100 and forced 400,000 to flee their homes.
"There are many NGOs in disaster areas such as in Aceh who are depending so much on the Internet for their communications. They are the ones feeling the most impact," telecommunications director general Gatot Dewobroto said.
In Vietnam, operators urged Internet users to ease congestion by refraining from downloading music or large data files from local websites unaffected by the quake-related damage.
In Thailand, Jirachai Srichon, from CAT Telecom, Thailand's communications authority, said 50 percent of Internet connections in the kingdom had been recovered.
"Connection, however, has remained slow, especially when traffic is huge," the senior executive vice president told reporters.
South Korea's information and communications ministry said 98 exclusive business lines -- 80 run by Korean Telecom and 18 by LG Dacom -- remained out of action Thursday, but other Internet and telephone services were normal.
"Just the services have got back to normal. The cables still remain damaged," Hong Seong-Yong, a ministry official handling the problem, told AFP.
Service across most of Australia had been restored on Thursday.
earlier related report
A spokeswoman for local telecom giant, Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) confirmed that connectivity was down by about 40 percent.
PLDT sister company, Smart Communications Inc. said its broadband Internet service had normalized and that "technical personnel are continously monitoring the system to ensure Internet connectivity."
Smart international roaming services for Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Yemen had also been restored, the company said.
Globe Telecom said its services to Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States had been "partially affected" but did not elaborate.
The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rocked Taiwan on Tuesday damaged several undersea cables in the region, jamming up the Internet and telecoms systems across much of East Asia.
Alberto Locsion, executive director of the Business Process Association of the Philippines, the local association of call centers, said that he knew of only two centers that were totally shut down due to the problems.
Call centers and other outsourced business processes have become a major industry in the Philippines and it had been feared that the cable damage might hamper their operations dramatically.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Bring Order To A World Of Disasters
Weather Hampers Efforts To Reach Indonesian Flood Victims
Payabedi (AFP) Dec 28, 2006
Indonesian rescue teams were Thursday trying to reach people still stranded by floods on Sumatra island but bad weather was hampering efforts to deliver much-needed food in some areas, officials said. Anger over the slow distribution of food boiled over in the worst-hit district of Aceh Tamiang as around a hundred flood victims, most of them mothers carrying their children, looted an aid distribution post in Payabedi.
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