The communications disruption caused by Tuesday's earthquake off the coast of Taiwan is likely to last well into the New Year.
As reported on Wednesday, the quake damaged the key ultra high-speed connection linking several Asian countries to the US and Europe, called the Asia Pacific cable network 2 submarine cable (APCN2).It now appears that six of the seven submarine cables running through the area off Taiwan hit by the earthquake were broken, and that six out of 10 cables connecting Korea were also affected.
This knocked some companies and homes within the region off the Internet, and resulted in much slower web access for others.
By Thursday, connectivity appeared to have improved. However, fixing all the damage will be a non-trivial problem.
According to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority in Hong Kong, five ships are setting sail from Singapore and the Philippines to fix the damaged cables off Taiwan. But this operation may take longer than a week.
"In general, it requires about five to seven days to repair the cables. However, due to the earthquake, the seabed may have been damaged and there may be further earthquakes that will affect the maintenance work," said the the Office of the Telecommunications Authority in a statement.
At present, telecommunications companies in the region have rerouted their traffic through other routes, but this is leading to a reduced service. On Thursday afternoon, some Asia-based web sites took longer than usual to respond, and other requests were timing out.
This image from the Internet Traffic Report showed that internet packet loss and response time in Asia rose sharply late on Tuesday.