Sat, Feb 10, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Bureaucracy could hobble undersea cable's repair

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

Repairing the undersea telecommunication cable between China and the US may be hindered by the cumbersome management structure of the consortium that operates it, according to one industry insider.

According to Chian Feng (錢鋒), general manager of Asia Global Crossing Taiwan, consortiums that operate cable services tend to suffer inefficient management, hampering repair efforts.

Cable consortiums may involve upwards of 40 major international carriers, of which all are required to participate in major decisions, Chian said.

As a result, "Their decision-making process is usually very slow" and reaction time in repairing damaged cables is not as fast compared to companies that are the sole owners of a cable line, Chian said.

The severed China-US cable, which went into service in January last year, is owned by a consortia that is jointly owned by 10 countries and 15 telecom companies.

An estimated 5 million people in Taiwan lost Internet service due to the cut.

Chunghwa Telecom said yesterday that as of 9pm, Internet service to 92 percent of the nation's users had been restored via a back-up cable between Taiwan and Japan.

But authorities have said that repairs to the main cable could take up to three weeks, a figure Chian said could be halved if the cable was operated by a single company. In a cable consortium, all the "operational functions are divided among different carriers," Chian said.

That slows reaction time to crises, whereas a single company could reach a decision fast, dispatch a repair vessel and have service back up in a couple of days to a week, Chian said.

Asia Global Crossing owns 100 percent of a pan-Asia network known as the East Asia Crossing.

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