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Asia restores communications after quake

Internet services and network connections are being restored as businesses return to work
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Written by Eileen Yu, Contributor on

More network connections and internet services have been restored as businesses return to work after the year-end and new-year holidays.

Internet communications across Asia, including Japan, China and Korea, suffered a complete blackout or severe network congestion after an earthquake off Taiwan's southern coastline damaged several major submarine cables connecting Asia and the US and Europe.

Asia Netcom's EAC (East Asia Crossing) cable system was one of seven affected by the quake last Tuesday evening.

The pan-Asia datacomms service provider was, however, able to restore its network the next day because damages to its EAC cable were not severe, a company spokesperson told ZDNet Asia. A former subsidiary of the China Netcom Group, Asia Netcom is currently owned by a global investor group led by Ashmore Investment Management, Spinnaker Capital and Clearwater Capital Partners.

All services to Asia Netcom customers were fully restored, the spokesperson said, adding that the service provider was also able to reroute traffic through its southern cable ring, running through Australia.

In addition, he noted that the company has inked agreements to provide its spare bandwidth to carriers affected by the quake until their cable systems have been repaired.

Asia Netcom's engineers restored more than 100Gbps of capacity on the EAC, an equivalent to more than 20,000 broadband lines across the region. Its chief technology officer, Wilfred Kwan, said in a statement: "The majority of the traffic has gone to support Asia Netcom's customers, with the remaining being provisioned to support the internet bandwidth demands of the region's carriers and ISPs (internet service providers)."

In Singapore, a SingTel spokesperson said the company's BlackBerry service, which was affected after the quake, has been fully restored and internet access to international sites "has been normalised for emailing, browsing and online transactions". Web activities that are bandwidth-intensive, such as games and video streaming, may still have some latency issues.

"As part of our cable traffic redirection effort, traffic to the United States is being rerouted via Europe or Australia as well as [through] other channels such as satellite links and landlines," he said.

According to Singapore's telecom and cable TV operator, 87 percent of its internet traffic has been diverted to alternative routes. "As repairs on the damaged undersea cables continue off Taiwan, StarHub's engineers are working round-the-clock to reroute affected internet traffic to other undersea cables," a spokesperson said.

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