Quake Blackout The Net

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Dec 28 2006
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Internet and phone services were disrupted across much of Asia, and may take weeks to be fully restored due to an 7.1-magnitude earthquake in Taiwan on Tuesday, 26-Dec-2006, night which damaged undersea cables, leaving one of the world’s most tech-savvy regions in a virtual blackout.

The earthquake damaged submarine cables that form part of the region-wide Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN 2), disrupting voice and Internet communications over much of Asia. APCN 2 is a 19,000km-long fibre-optic cable network linking Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Europe and Australia and jointly operated by 26 Asian telecommunications carriers.

The damaged links are between Shantou (China) and Tanshui (Taiwan), and, Lantau (Hong Kong) and Chongming (China). Taiwan’s largest telephone company, Chunghwa Telecom Co, estimates that 98% of the island state’s communications with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hongkong were hit. “Their submarines will have to go down and fix the problem. And, because of the earthquake, there was also a fear of tsunami. So, we believe it will take some time,” Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s (KLSE : TM, stock-code 4863) internet service public relations manager said.

From frustrated traders seeking in vain for stock quotes to anxious newshounds accustomed to round-the-clock updates on world events, millions of people from China to Japan to Australia were believed to be affected. Bloggers were equally affected as mostly rely on the internet to post their daily updates.

China’s biggest telecoms provider, China Telecommunications Group, said that communications cables to the US and to Europe had been damaged.

In South Korea, broadband provider KT Corp (NYSE : KTC) said six submarine cables had been affected, interrupting services to customers including banks. Some foreign exchange trading was reportedly affected.

Also knocked out was internet service for some Hongkong customers, who were unable to access websites in parts of Asia and the US. Telephone company PCCW Ltd (NYSE : PCW) warned customers that they may experience congestion for several days on the internet because of an upsurge in use as people surf the Web for more information about the quakes. “It’s a nightmare, basically, because we have no idea what is going on in the markets today,” said Steve Rowles, an analyst with CFC Seymour in Hongkong, who echoed others in saying that damage was limited due to year’s end.

In a statement, Maxis Communications Bhd (KLSE : MAXIS, stock-code 5051) admitted that customers faced problems while attempting to call the US, Canada, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan following the earthquake. Berjaya Hotels and Resorts’ E-business (KLSE : BJCORP, stock-code 3395) director Chris Cheong said the disruption in e-booking service affected overall speed on Internet access and the congestion resulted in a much longer time for its Internet reservations web pages to load.

DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (KLSE : DIGI, stock-code 6947) said the earthquake in Taiwan disrupting Internet traffic, roaming services and international calls to Taiwan, South Korea, China and the US. FedEx (NYSE : FDX) spokesperson in Singapore confirms that there has been a major network outage at our vendor end, which has affected all our network communications in the Asia Pacific.

# TIP: In time of such disaster, choosing the fastest platform for online stock or option trading will makes the difference. Avoid web-based platform if possible. Choose client-based option.

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