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China telcos, Internet firms restore services after Sichuan quake

Country's three telcos restore Internet and phone connections partially in Baoxing county near the quake center, while Internet companies launch online platforms and navigation for victims and rescue teams.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor
China's three largest telcos restore services and offer services to help citizens after Saturday's 7 magnitude Sichuan quake.

China's three largest telcos, along with local Internet companies, have restored or partially restored services and are offering services to help citizens after the 7 magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan Province on Saturday morning.

According to China Daily on Monday, Internet and phone connections were partially restored in Baoxing county, about 42 kilometers northwest of the center of the 7 magnitude earthquake which isolated the county and cut communication links.

China Telecom's network coverage was restored in Baoxing at noon, and it was the first carrier to restore phone links after the earthquake. The telco also said it had sent about 900 maintenance workers, 45 communication vehicles, and other equipment to the quake-hit region.

China Mobile, the country's largest telecom by subscriber base, said it restored its cellular network late Sunday afternoon.

"We have been preparing and upgrading our emergency plans to deal with events since the Wenchuan earthquake," Li Jun, deputy director of information services at China Mobile, said in the China Daily report. "The emergency restoration plan was designed for such disasters." An 8 magnitude earthquake in May 2008 hit Wenchuan county, also located in the Sichuan province, leaving more than 87,000 people dead or missing.

China Unicom's Sichuan branch said it dispatched more than 300 maintenance workers, four communication vehicles and equipment to restore its base stations.

Late on Saturday, the three telcos said phone calls, text messaging, and roaming services would be free in quake-stricken areas, and advised people to use text messaging instead of making calls as it requires less bandwidth.

A separate report by Xinhua News Agency on Saturday noted almost 279 telecom base stations operated by China Mobile and China Unicom collapsed in the quake.

Internet companies launch initiatives to help quake victims

Internet companies in the country also launched a number of initiatives to help quake victims.

China search engine Baidu, launched an online application to provide information about survivors and missing people. It said this apps reunited six survivors with their family members after their details were posted on the platform.

Social network Renren and Web browser Qihoo 360 Technologies also launched similar services. They worked the same way as Google's Person Finder application which is used to post information on missing persons in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings last week and New Zealand earthquake in February 2011.

China's largest navigation provider by market share, AutoNavi, said it was providing services to rescue teams in Sichuan, and also pledged to offer free downloads of its offline navigation app to the public.

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