Asian Internet, Phone Services Hit by Taiwan Quakes
Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) — Internet and telephone services across Asia were disrupted, hampering financial transactions, after earthquakes near Taiwan damaged undersea cables.
“The repairs could take two to three weeks,” said Leng Tai-feng, president of Chunghwa Telecom Co.’s international business. The Taipei-based company, Taiwan’s largest phone operator, said two of its undersea cables were cut.
A series of earthquakes, including a magnitude 7.1 tremor, struck Taiwan last night and today, killing at least two people and cutting power supplies. HSBC Holdings Plc said its online banking services were down, while Chunghwa said almost no calls could be made to Southeast Asia, causing disruption to companies including First State Investments in Singapore.
“I can’t trade if I don’t know the prices,” said David Leong, who heads the Singapore trading desk at First State, which manages $15 billion in equities in Asia and emerging markets. “I’ve put in limit orders to try to minimize the damage, but even then you need to have the basic information.”
Chunghwa said voice calls to the U.S. are down to 40 percent of normal capacity, while calls to China are down to 10 percent, and 11 percent for Japan. Hong Kong’s PCCW Ltd. said it only had 50 percent of its telephone capacity in the region and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Southeast Asia’s largest phone company, reported Internet traffic was hindered.
HSBC spokeswoman Vinh Tran in Hong Kong said there was no access for its online banking service in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Both the city’s stock exchange and Securities and Futures Commission said operations were normal.
Damaged cables include the APCN2 cable and Sea-Me-We3 cables, Chunghwa’s Leng said. Eight STM-1 cables from Okinawa off Japan and 4 STM-1 cables to Shanghai are acting as backup, Chunghwa said in a statement. The company may also use the ST-1 satellite.
Singapore Telecom, France Telecom SA and Pakistan Telecommunication Co. are among companies that own the Sea-Me-We3 cables linking Europe to Asia. Operators in the APCN2 cable network that connects Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore include China Unicom Ltd., StarHub Ltd., Telekom Malaysia Bhd. and Telstra Corp.
“It’s not just Taiwan that will be impacted,” said John Hibbard, a former executive at Telstra’s global wholesale network business and now runs a consultancy business. “Submarine cables running off the Taiwanese coast connect Japan with the Philippines and Hong Kong so the earthquakes may disrupt corporate communications across the region.”
Asia had the slowest Web connection with response time at 619 milliseconds, or triple the average 200 milliseconds, according to the latest figures from Internet Traffic Report’s site, which monitors the flow of global Internet data.
“We are experiencing problems in overseas markets like Taiwan. We can’t get in touch with Japan,” said Andrew Clarke, a sales trader at SG Securities Hong Kong Ltd. “We’ve had other brokers come to us to give us orders because they can’t do it. We’re basically using mobile phones to place orders.”
Tokyo-based KDDI Corp. said it’s re-routing phone calls to go through the U.S. and Europe. Repairing the cables can typically take several weeks to two months, KDDI’s spokesman Haruhiko Maede said.
Some Asian fixed-line lines were disrupted by the quakes, said Akira Yamanaka, who oversees the telecommunications industry at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Overseas connections at Korea’s Foreign Ministry and corporate clients were affected, said Kim Cheol Kee, a spokesman for Seongnam-based KT Corp., South Korea’s largest provider of fixed-line services.
Internet users of China Netcom Group Corp. (Hong Kong) Ltd., the smaller of China’s two fixed-line operators, have difficulty accessing overseas Web sites, Xu Song, a company spokeswoman, said by telephone from Beijing. Connections to local Internet sites aren’t affected, she said.
The main quake, classified as “major,” struck at 8:26 p.m. local time yesterday, 10 kilometers (6 miles) under the seabed, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site.
The tremors came on the second anniversary of the 2004 Asian tsunami, when a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra unleashed waves that destroyed coastal villages from Indonesia to Sri Lanka, killing more than 220,000 people.
An undersea earthquake off the coast of Taiwan on Boxing day severely disrupted communications across east Asia by damaging cables.The tremor struck at 12.26 GMT yesterday, and was measured at 7.1 on the Richter scale by the US Geological Survey. Warnings of a one metre high tsunami headed for the Philippines were issued, but the wave did not make land. The BBC reports two people were killed and at least 42 injured on Taiwan.
The island’s biggest telecoms provider, Chunghwa Telecom Co., said damage to its undersea cables had cut off 98 per cent of communication with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. Repairs are set to take up to three weeks, according to the firm. Japanese operators also reported trouble.
China Telecommunications Group said its connections with the US and Europe had been disrupted too. It said: “Internet connections have been seriously affected, and phone links and dedicated business lines have also been affected to some degree.”
Slow internet services in the region are expected over the next few days. Trading on currency exchanges has been hit.
Source: The Register
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