Taiwan Earthquake Knocks Out Cables

Posted by Sam Churchill on

A strong earthquake in Taiwan has damaged major undersea cables (WikiNews) linking the island with South-East Asia, Europe and the United States, disrupting service Wednesday for tens of millions of internet and telephone users across Asia, reports the BBC. It hit on the 2nd anniversary of the massive the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Damaged cables include the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) cable and the Sea-Me-We3 (website) cables that serves South-East Asia – Middle East and Western Europe.

APCN2 provides seamless interconnection to Australia and Europe via SMW3 and AJC (the Australia-Japan Cable) and across the Pacific to the USA via the China-US and Japan-US cables that were commissioned in 2001. Eight STM-1 cables from Okinawa off Japan and 4 STM-1 cables to Shanghai are acting as backup. The company may also use the ST-1 satellite for temporary service.

According to the US Geological Survey, the 7.1 magnitude main quake struck at 8:26 p.m. local time yesterday, 10 kilometers (6 miles) under the seabed.

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.

Singapore Telecom, France Telecom and Pakistan Telecommunication 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, StarHub, Telekom Malaysia and Telstra.

NEC supplied its NS320 submarine system using Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM), a fiber-optic transmission technique that uses different colors for multiplexing. 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.

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.

Internet users of China Netcom (Hong Kong), the smaller of China’s two fixed-line operators, have difficulty accessing overseas Web sites while connections to local Internet sites aren’t affected. China Telecommunications Group, the country’s biggest fixed-line telephone operator and parent of China Telecom, said Internet services have been badly disrupted.

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.

Tokyo-based KDDI 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.

Directions Magazine editorializes on the need for a Tsunami warning system using cell phones:

NOAA/PTWC should have been able to communicate to those in Hawaii County (i.e. the affected area) that the 6.7 magnitude quake was NOT tsunami-genic. And, they should have been able to do it with widely used communication tools. This would have alleviated many fears for all concerned. According to PTWC, their algorithms are sufficiently sophisticated to determine the area of a coastline that may expect a tsunami if an earthquake of sufficient magnitude occurs. If so, then the cell carriers who are now offering “geofencing” capabilities with their phone service to locate family members should be communicating with emergency authorities to provide similar alerts.

This September, The WARN Act was passed to encourage communication protocols and standards. “The WARN Act will establish a network for the transmission of alerts across a broad variety of communication technologies, including wireless communication devices such as cell phones and Blackberries, the internet, digital, analog, cable, satellite television, and satellite and terrestrial radio, as well as non-traditional media such as sirens and “radios-on-a-stick”.

Researchers from across the globe will present new analyses of seismic data, field survey information and modeling results of the July 17, 2006 tsunami earthquake at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco. The Java earthquake created a 60 feet high wave along more than a one-mile section of coastline. The tsunami hit a 300-mile stretch of Java’s coastline and claimed more than 600 lives in a 125-mile-long, high-impact area.

DailyWireless has more on the New China Transpacific Cable announced this month, the 2006 Java Earthquake, and the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, December 27th, 2006 at 9:57 am .

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