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Anchor-draggers cut Asia's Internet pipe

Net access in Asia has been severely disrupted following damage to cables off the China coast - possibly due to ships dragging their anchors
Written by Irene Tham, Contributor

Internet traffic from Asia to the US has slowed to a snail's pace due to two impaired undersea cables.

"There appears to be a damage to some circuits on the China-US and [SEA-ME-WE cable which connects Germany to Japan] cables, about 30 km off Shantou in China," said telecommunications service provider Reach Communications spokesperson Martin Ratia.

SEA-ME-WE3, which runs 38,000 km from Germany to Japan, is owned by telcos including Reach, Singapre Telecommunications, KDD Japan, France Telecom, Telekom Malaysia, PT Indosat and Deutsche Telecom.

The 27,000 km China-US cable is owned by a consortium including Reach, SingTel, Concert, China Telecom, Japan Telecom, Korea Telecom, KDD Japan, Sprint and Telekom Malaysia.

The exact cause of the damage could not be determined although it was likely due to shipping vessels dragging their anchors along the sea bed, Ratia said.

According to Ratia, Internet traffic in Asia was almost at a stand-still from around noon. The full extent and impact of the damage has yet to be determined.

In Singapore, Internet users also experienced some delay in accessing Web sites hosted outside of the Republic. This is because the SingTel Internet Exchange (STIX) leases US-China cable bandwidth to local Internet Service Providers.

"When the problems were detected, SingTel took immediate steps to divert traffic to other submarine cable systems," said company spokesperson Jesmine Ong.

"The cable restoration teams led by Concert and SingTel are co-ordinating the restoration efforts," Ong added, without saying when Internet access would return to normalcy.

In February, a China-US cable failure caused similar problems and less than a month later, another fault occurred on the same cable.

Today, the cable failure momentarily affected voice traffic in Australia but was immediately restored by switching to other cable systems, Ratia said.

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