TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Asia Earthquake Damages Cables; Internet and Banks Among Affected

Asia Earthquake Damages Cables; Internet and Banks Among Affected

Reuters News Wire (
Wed, 27 Dec 2006 14:12:41 -0600

Telecommunications around Asia were severely disrupted on Wednesday
after earthquakes off Taiwan damaged undersea cables, slowing Internet
services and hindering financial transactions, particularly in the
currency market.

International telephone traffic was restricted from some countries and
Internet access slowed to a crawl. Sources working with Asian telecoms
providers said it could take several weeks before all the cables were

South Korea's top fixed-line and broadband service provider, KT Corp,
said six submarine cables were knocked out by Tuesday night's

"Twenty-seven of our customers were hit, including banks and
churches," a KT spokesman said. "It is not known yet when we can fully
restore the services."

The foreign exchange market suffered in Seoul, with trade in the won
extremely slow during the morning.

Some disruption was also reported in the important Tokyo currency
market but the EBS system that handles much dollar/yen trading
appeared to be working.

Global information company Reuters Group Plc said users of its
services in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan had been affected, although
dealing services were restored in Tokyo during the afternoon.

In India, back offices and call centers experienced some difficulty,
but industry officials said the full extent of the problem would not
be known until later in the day when data and voice traffic peaked
during European and U.S. business hours.

The main quake, measured by Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau at
magnitude 6.7 and at magnitude 7.1 by the U.S. Geological Survey,
struck off Taiwan's southern coast at 1226 GMT on Tuesday. Two people
were killed.


In China, financial markets worked normally but China
Telecommunications Group, the country's biggest fixed-line telephone
operator and parent of China Telecom Corp., said the Internet had been
badly disrupted.

Phone links and dedicated business lines had also been affected to
some degree, it said.

Officials declined to give further details. "Undersea communications
cables fall in the area of state secrets," said a ministry of
communications official in Beijing.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. said its Internet service was
intermittent and international phone calls had been affected. Rival
Globe Telecom said "the entire country's telecom services to the
United States were disrupted."

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's biggest telecoms carrier, said two of four
major undersea cables out of Taiwan had been affected, initially
cutting more than half its international telecommunications capacity.

Calls to Southeast Asia were the worst affected, with less than 10
percent getting through at 0500 GMT -- an improvement from the
morning, when less than 2 percent succeeded.

KDDI Corp., Japan's second-largest telecoms company, said
communications along submarine cables out of Japan went through Taiwan
before reaching Southeast Asian countries, which was leading to
disruption, but there were alternative lines.

PCCW, Hong Kong's main fixed-line telecoms provider, said several
undersea cables it part-owned had been damaged. "Data transfer is down
by half," a spokeswoman said.

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), Southeast Asia's top phone
company, said traffic was being diverted and repair work was in
progress, adding: "Our submarine cables linking to Europe and the U.S.
are not affected."

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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