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Japan's telecoms recover after earthquake

Japan's mobile services are recovering faster than fixed lines in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

While the installation of specialized civil works in Japan helped keep the country's telecommunication network working in the aftermath of the Mar. 11 earthquake - fixed communications devices remained vulnerable to power disruption. And the problem is likely to escalate as the number of networked consumer devices for fixed network grows, said David Kennedy, research director at Ovum, in a report released Wednesday.

The 9-magnitude earthquake which also triggered tsunami waves demonstrated that users were becoming more reliant on mobile communication devices, Kennedy said, noting that telecommunication network traffic grew exponentially after the tremor as customers attempted to get in touch with loved ones.

Major Japanese telcos have since restored several fixed and mobile services in the worst-hit areas, but disruptions to fixed service are still a challenge. He added that operators were likely prioritizing repair works for mobile network over fixed communication because the latter remained vulnerable to rolling power blackouts, caused by power shortages arising from the damaged nuclear plants.

He said NTT DoCoMo had reported that 2,130 of its mobile base stations were still out of service, compared to 6,720 which were inoperative immediately after the quake. Likewise, KDDI had 1,500 non-functioning base stations, down from 3,800, while Softbank reduced its inoperative base stations from 3,786 to 1,157, he added.

For more on this story, read Japan's multiple network redundancy stands well post-quake on ZDNet Asia.