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Internet service has been extremely slow here the past couple of days; whenever I'd try to access any site I would get "cannot find server" and "timed out" errors.  I wasn't able to retrieve email or sign into Blogger.

Last night, I managed to get VSNL's bandwidth meter to work, recording a speed of 6.20kbps!  Strangely enough, my BitTorrent downloads in µTorrent were still coming down the pike at a total speed averaging 52kbps.  My main concern was not being able to log in to my online banking sites as I needed to transfer some funds because my debit card expires on New Year's Eve and I haven't yet received a replacement.

I even tried calling my service provider — Singapore Telecom — but failed to get anybody on the phone who could understand English.

Well, I just logged in a couple of minutes ago and it seems to be working a bit faster now.  I managed to transfer some money, access my blog, and download email.  The first one I read was a series of news reports (courtesy of which served to let me know that it's not just our connection that's affected:

Asia quakes damage cables; Internet, banks, stockmarkets affected

SINGAPORE: -- 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.

Banks and businesses across the region reported problems with communications, with some telephone lines cut and Internet access slowing to a crawl.

South Korea's top fixed-line and broadband service provider, KT Corp (030200.KS: Quote, Profile, Research), said in a statement that six submarine cables were knocked out by Tuesday night's earthquakes.

"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."

Banks in Seoul said foreign exchange trading had been affected.

"Trading of the Korean won has mostly halted due to the communication problem," said a dealer at one domestic bank.

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.

--Reuters 2006-12-28
This one...
Singapore Telecom, PCCW Say Internet Disrupted by Taiwan Quakes

SINGAPORE: -- Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. Southeast Asia's largest telephone company, and Hong Kong's PCCW Ltd. said Internet service in Asia slowed down after three earthquakes hit southern Taiwan yesterday.

``The Taiwan earthquake has affected several submarine cable systems in Asia, causing cable cuts near Taiwan late last night,'' Singapore Telecom spokesman Chia Boon Chong said by telephone today. ``Some customers might experience a slowdown in data or Internet access. Traffic diversion and restoration works are currently in progress.''

Taiwan was jolted by three earthquakes yesterday, killing two people and injuring 42 others, the island's National Fire Agency said. The tremors damaged undersea cables, causing a disruption to Internet traffic and some telephone calls in the region for customers including Singapore Telecom, PCCW, Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's biggest telephone operator, and KDDI Corp., Japan's second-largest telephone carrier.

PCCW, Hong Kong's largest phone company, said data capacity on its networks was reduced to 50 percent due to the quake.

``Data service to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the U.S. were affected,'' said Hans Leung, a spokesman in Hong Kong.

Two of Chunghwa Telecom's cables were damaged by the earthquake, resulting in ``near zero'' capacity for voice calls to Southeast Asia, apart from Vietnam, said Leng Tai-feng, the company's vice president of international business.

``The repairs could take two to three weeks,'' Leng said. ``We're doing our best to coordinate with other operators in the region to resolve the problem.''

The first earthquake, which was magnitude 6.7, occurred at 8:26 p.m. local time yesterday off Taiwan's south coast, the island's Central Weather Bureau said on its Web site. The second, magnitude 6.4, happened at 8:34 p.m. and the third, magnitude 5.2, occurred at 8:40 p.m. All three were centered in the same area, the bureau said.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra unleashed waves that destroyed coastal villages on the Indian Ocean from Indonesia to Sri Lanka, killing more than 220,000 people. Some of the areas have yet to recover.

KDDI said its fiber-optic undersea cable in Taiwan was damaged, affecting fixed-line services to Southeast Asia. The company is re-routing phone calls to go through the U.S. and Europe and may take several weeks to two months to repair cables that are damaged, KDDI's Tokyo-based spokesman Haruhiko Maede said.

KT Corp., South Korea's largest provider of fixed-line phone and Internet access service, said the outages affected overseas connections of the foreign ministry and Reuters, which use leased lines, said Kim Cheol Kee, a spokesman for Seongnam-based KT.

KT is in discussions with foreign phone companies to redirect traffic elsewhere, Kim says.

--Bloomberg 2006-12-28
...and this one:
Taiwan earthquake cuts of communication links.

Communications cut off after powerful earthquake strikes southern Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan: Taiwan's telephone communications with neighboring Asian countries were cut off Wednesday, hours after a powerful earthquake struck the southern part of the island, killing two and triggering a regional tsunami alert.

Chunghwa Telecom said an undersea cable off the southern coast had been damaged, interrupting communications with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Communications with China were also cut off, because calls to the mainland from Taiwan are routed through Hong Kong.

The quake, which hit late Tuesday just offshore from the Pingtung County township of Hengchun, came on the second anniversary of the devastating tsunami that took more than 200,000 lives in southern Asia.

A total of 42 people were injured in southern Taiwan, the fire agency said. Three houses collapsed, and 12 fires broke out.

The power supply to 3,000 homes was disrupted, but was later restored, according to the agency.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which hit at 8:26 p.m. (1226 GMT), registered magnitude 7.1, while Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau measured it at 6.7. It was followed eight minutes later by an aftershock registering 7.0, the USGS said.

Early Wednesday another aftershock, measuring 5.9, was registered in the area, the Central Weather Bureau said.

Japan's Meteorological Bureau said a one-meter (3.3-foot) tsunami might be headed toward the eastern coast of the Philippines, but later lifted the warning.

"The expected waves did not materialize ... the danger has passed," said Hiroshi Koide of the agency's earthquake section. "We predicted a tsunami based on the depth and magnitude of the earthquake. But ultimately, it appears no large tsunami was triggered."

Philippine police said coastal areas had been alerted.

The warning underscored the higher level of caution about tsunami waves in the region since a massive earthquake off Indonesia exactly two years earlier triggered a powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Tuesday's quake was felt throughout Taiwan. It swayed buildings and knocked objects off the shelves in the capital, Taipei, in the northern part of the island.

Several high-rise hotels swayed violently in the southern city of Kaohsiung, the CTI Cable News reported.

Liao Ching-ling, a manager at the city's Ambassador Hotel, said the quake was the strongest she had ever felt.

"The building swayed so badly that many guests panicked and ran out of their rooms and into the streets," she said.

The tremor was centered at sea about 23 kilometers (13 miles) southwest of Hengchun on Taiwan's southern tip, the bureau said. Hengchun is about 450 kilometers (260 miles) south of Taipei.

Quakes frequently shake Taiwan, which is part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Most are minor and cause little or no damage. However, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.
I had planned to upload/post photos from our Christmas and Tsunami Day activities yesterday and today, but I'll try to do that tomorrow (provided we still have any Internet speed at all).  There's also A LOT of catch-up blogs I have planned — interesting news articles, an update on Gaow, and even a few end-of-the-year lists.  Hopefully, tomorrow....