RealTime IT News

Taiwan Quake Cripples Tech

An earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter scale hit the Southern portion of Taiwan, crippling Internet and phone service in Asia. Approximately 18 telecommunications cables are undersea serving the Pacific Rim region, according to Verizon, and the company said it could take weeks to repair them all.

Cable & Wireless, a UK-based company which also has communications cables in the region, said it lost connections between Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Traffic to Japan and Singapore was rerouted through Australia, while China handled data and voice for Japan and Hong Kong.

Verizon said it is using the SEA-ME-WE-4 cable to redirect traffic to India and that customers may be impacted for weeks.

"This underscores the need for additional redundancy in the area," spokesperson Gil Broyles said. Verizon said several cables were damaged, resulting in slower Internet service traffic is rerouted.

Damage to individual undersea cables creates considerably more service disruption than land-based cable because they carry proportionally more traffic and handle multiple regions, said Verizon. This is in contrast to land-based pipes that use multiple paths and suffer more localized disruptions. Verizon said it will take more than a week to get a repair ship into the area.

Earlier this month, Verizon announced it would spend more than $500 million next year to create an undersea optical cable system directly linking the U.S. with China. The project, known as Trans-Pacific Express, will support more than 62 million simultaneous phone calls. The cable, stretching more than 18,000 kilometers, is slated to finish in late 2008, according to a statement.

The magnitude of the earthquake, occurring close to the two-year anniversary of the undersea earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people, prompted authorities to issue a tsunami alert.