Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Telephone firm reroutes capacity of damaged cables

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Chunghwa Telecom Co, the nation's biggest phone company, said yesterday that it had restored voice services to the US, Canada and China by rerouting connections after earthquakes on Tuesday damaged two undersea cables.

Voice services to Hong Kong and Singapore were expected to be partially restored soon as the company completes agreements on rerouting the connections, Chunghwa vice president Leng Tai-feng (冷台芬) said by telephone last night.

Chunghwa Telecom said it activated its backup system and was relying on two remaining undersea cables. But it would take at least two to three weeks to restore the damaged cables and restore normal data services, the company said.

Links to the US, Japan, China and Southeast Asia were damaged by the quakes on Tuesday night, and millions of Internet and telephone connections across Asia were severely disrupted or slowed yesterday. Banks and businesses across the region also reported problems with communications.

HSBC customers, for instance, were unable to access online banking services in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, said Vinh Tran, a company spokeswoman in Hong Kong.

Securities traders in Hong Kong and Singapore were unable to obtain prices and complete orders after networks linking financial companies were disrupted.

Dealers said, however, that because it is around Christmas, the impact would be less serious.

Chunghwa Telecom estimates that about 30 percent of its users of overseas data transmission have been affected, with those in Southeast Asia suffering most.

Chunghwa earlier yesterday said that telephone calls to the US were down to 40 percent of normal capacity, while calls to China were down to 10 percent and 11 percent for Japan.

It promised to compensate clients by charging lower fees. It also said it had sought help from other undersea cable suppliers and telecom operators to improve its services.

"Data is more difficult to restore because it is high speed," Leng said.

Primary cables were being repaired by another company, she added.

Taiwan's undersea communications cable system consists of seven lines extending from the northern and southern points of the island. The quake damaged the two southern lines.

Chunghwa said the damaged portions of the cables would be pulled to the surface and repaired aboard a ship.

Damaged cables include the APCN2 cable and Sea-Me-We3 cables, Leng said. Eight STM-1 cables from Okinawa and 4 STM-1 cables from Shanghai are acting as backup, Chunghwa said. The company may also use the ST-1 satellite in the meantime.

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