RealTime IT News

Aftershocks Hamper Taiwan's Cable Repair

Days after earthquakes hit Taiwan, cutting communications cables linking the country with the rest of the world, the country is still contending with the effects of aftershocks on its underwater communications system.

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's largest communications provider, now says it is using satellite connections to restore voice and data to Asia and the U.S. The original plan was to route traffic over cables spared by the initial quake, but the cables were hit by two aftershocks, according to an e-mailed statement.

Chunghwa said ships are steaming toward the damaged cables, and repairs will be done "as soon as possible." Verizon Communications , Chunghwa's partner in a proposed $500 million undersea optical cable project directly linking the U.S. with China, said it could be two weeks before voice and data service return fully.

Telus, a Canadian operator, said its Asian operations have returned to normal. However, calls to the Philippines remain at half capacity. A spokeswoman said Internet users are still experiencing delays.

Increasing Internet capacity to Asia will be a topic of discussion among those attending the annual Pacific Telecommunications Council meeting to be held next month in Hawaii. Among the companies invited to the event are Verizon and its competitors racing to build what the PTC terms an Asian-American high-speed superhighway.

Asia Netcom, one of Asia's largest telecom players, will speak at the gathering. The company is talking with an Indian carrier proposing a link between the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, mainland U.S. and Japan.

AT&T is also competing with Verizon to gain a foothold in Asia. The telecom giant is mulling an alliance with Telekom Malaysia, creating an Asian-American gateway.

A Rand Corp. study highlights the growing use of undersea cables to deliver vital telecommunications. Around 80 percent of voice and data traffic cross such cables, susceptible to ships' anchors and even certain sharks.

Unlike the U.S., which could reroute traffic across Canada or South America, Rand said Taiwan would have fewer options.