Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Repairs to undersea telephone cables delayed by weather

DPA , BEIJING

Internet users across Asia continue to be affected by damage to undersea telecommunications cables that were damaged in the magnitude-6.7 earthquake that struck the nation three weeks ago.

Service disruptions and sluggishness are expected for some time to come, as repairs to the cables have made little progress. Chunghwa Telecom Co had said earlier this month it expected the repairs to be completed by the end of this month. However, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported yesterday that the depth of the cables, poor equipment and weather were a problem.

The general manager of Global Marine, which has dispatched ships to help with the repairs, said that because the cables lie 4,000m below sea level, neither robots nor electrical technology could be used to fix them.

Waves 10 to 12m high generated by strong winds are delaying the repairs.

Workers are using techniques that have been employed since the 19th-century to find the cables.

Workers are searching the ocean floor for the cables by dragging hooks along the bottom. Once the cables are located, they are brought up to the surface for repair.

Four to six cables that carry signals to the US and Europe were damaged in the Dec. 26 earthquake off southern Taiwan, which killed two people.

China's China Telecom reported that 70 percent of its Internet service had been restored through alternative routes. Experts said, however, that satellite links, for example, were slow and expensive. In comparison to cables, they are also unstable.

The Internet Traffic Report said the speed of Internet service in Asia has been substantially slower since the earthquake.

The earthquake's aftershocks caused extensive disruptions in Internet service across the continent, leading to complaints. In China, foreign Web sites have been slow to load since the earthquake, while e-mail services often don't work.

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