My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.




Internet recovery continues slowly
CAT capacity restored to 50%

Millions of frustrated Internet users across Asia have slowly regained access to overseas websites, three days after an earthquake off the coast of Taiwan snapped several vital undersea cables.

Connections remained slow in Malaysia and Thailand, where communications authority CAT Telecom said capacity had only been restored to 50 per cent.

"Thailand is still lucky compared to other countries where Internet connections have totally collapsed," a CAT official said.

Telecoms operators across the region re-routed Internet links to circumvent the ruptured lines off the southern part of the island, as engineers donned diving suits to assess the damage and begin repairs.

"Everything is improving now," said a spokesman for PCCW, Hong Kong's largest fixed-line operator.

"All international call and roaming services have gone back to normal, including to Taiwan, although some websites are still congested," he said.

Hong Kong's telecommunications authority said five maintenance ships had been dispatched to repair six fiber-optic cables, which handle about 90 per cent of telecommunications capacity in the area.

"Overall there has been some improvement in access to the Internet today. However, most users will continue to experience slow access," it said in a statement.

It added some ships arrived at the scene Thursday, but the weather had obstructed survey and assessment work.

"Initial surveys indicated that damage to the submarine cables was substantial," it said.

The authority said it may take longer to repair the cables than the original estimate of five to seven days.

Taiwan's largest phone company, Chunghwa Telecom, has commissioned three more ships to assist the repair effort. The cables ruptured following Tuesday's 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which killed two people on the island.

An official from Chunghwa said voice traffic to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia remained relatively weak, but was improving.

Internet users frustrated by their inability to log onto e-mail accounts, news websites and online banking services -- conveniences that have become part of modern life -- found access across the region Friday improved, but still patchy.

Southeast Asia's largest telecom operator, Singapore Telecommunications, said it had established a "command centre" to restore full service as quickly as possible.

"Internet access to all websites has been normalised for emailing, browsing and online transactions," it said in a statement. "Access to services such as gaming and video downloading, which require higher bandwidth, may experience some delays."

The company said SingTel BlackBerry service had been fully restored.

"As part of our cable traffic redirection effort, traffic to the US is being re-routed via Europe or Australia, as well as using other channels such as satellite links and landlines," it said.

In South Korea, Hong Seong-Yong, an official at the communications ministry, said: "Recovery work is moving ahead quickly, with nearly all financial institutions, including foreign banks, back to normal overnight."

The Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency characterised the week's web difficulties as "cyber-chaos", with a source at China Netcom saying progress on restoring service had been slow.

China Netcom said two boats had been sent out to start repairing the damaged lines and three others would soon depart, the China Daily reported.

Indonesia's telecoms authority said it could take up to a month to restore Internet capacity, which had fallen to just 17 per cent following Tuesday's quake.

"This incident is a major problem for us," director general of post and telecommunications Basuki Yusuf Iskandar was quoted as saying by The Jakarta Post.

Analysts said it was too early to estimate the total financial losses caused by the week's Internet mayhem. Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom put preliminary losses at 150 million Taiwan dollars (4.6 million US).

"They are the hardest hit, I would say," noted Sachin Mittal with DBS Vickers Securities in Singapore. "Probably all the (other) telcos will be less than Chunghwa."

-- Agencies 2006-12-30
It seems okay here — still getting a few stalled pages but they usually load on the second or third try.  They're saying that service won't be fully restored for at least three weeks but we'll see...