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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Internet services will not be fully restored until end of Jan (maybe....)

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake just south of Taiwan knocked an unprecedented seven submarine communications cables out of service on 26 December, impairing international communications to Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, and Malaysia.

Many observers have speculated that the cable outage has been exacerbated by a lack of investment in Asian cable infrastructure, or by Asian network capacity constraints. TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map 2007 dispels this myth: a diverse array of undersea cables connect the countries of Asia to one another and to the world. In the past year, three of these cable systems, Asia Netcom’s EAC, FLAG and REACH’s North Asia Loop and the APCN-2 consortium cable upgraded their networks’ capacity, in order to accommodate growing traffic volumes. However, even after these upgrades, most intra-Asian systems are operating at less than 15% of their potential capacities, leaving plenty of room for future traffic growth.

Sources with China Netcom (CNC) said seven repair ships have been working round-the-clock, but the nature of the undersea terrain and bad weather had combined to slow work. To make matters worse, the extent of the damage to the cables was initially underestimated......
China Telecom said another reason for the delay was the dense and intricate distribution of trans-oceanic networks in the area off Taiwan. It said the most optimistic estimation for resumption of full services is Jan. 20.

What steps can be taken to protect against future network outages in Asia?

The upcoming deployment of new cables, such as the Trans Pacific Express and Asia American Gateway, will provide new routing options, helping to improve networks’ resiliency. While many buyers already purchase capacity on multiple cable systems to provide redundant capacity, network operators may procure capacity on an even more diverse array of cable systems in earthquake prone regions, and deploy fault-tolerant mesh networking technologies over these cables.

Finally, these outages may increase interest in routing more capacity from Asia and Europe over the trans-Russia networks of Rostelecom and TransTeleCom. Once again, my apologies for the size of the map but it is important if only to give you a feeling of security.

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