Cable cuts disrupt Asian internet access

Staff Writer
13 Aug 2009

Asia’s internet traffic was once again disrupted yesterday when a segment of the APCN2 undersea cable network between China and Taiwan suffered a serious cable fault. IDG reported that internet traffic was rerouted onto other undersea cables and slowed internet access for some users in Southeast Asia.

The APCN2 cable is owned by a consortium of 26 telecom operators from 14 different countries. The cable links Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, South Korea and Japan.

Meanwhile, Cable & Wireless yesterday reported network traffic was impacted in and out of the region. It reported last night that it logged multiple cable breaks on APCN2, APCN, EAC and SMW3 in Asia Pacific -- specifically, near Taiwan.

Cable & Wireless said in a statement that none of its MPLS network customers were affected by the cable failures. “Traffic within our MPLS core was automatically rerouted via our multiple diverse paths across Asia. We are currently working to restore any of our impacted transmission customers via available bandwidth on our core network.”

IDG reported that the exact cause of the APCN2 fault was not immediately known. An alarm indicated the disruption was caused by a "single point of failure," which suggests a variety of possibilities, including a technical failure or a cable cut, the source said. One cause can apparently be ruled out: Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau did not record signs of seismic activity around the time that the alarm was received.

Undersea cables can easily be damaged by natural disasters or other causes. In 2006, a powerful earthquake off the southern coast of Taiwan damaged several cables and slowed Internet access to a crawl for users in Southeast Asia.

SingTel, which is an investor in APCN2, said its users may experience slower Internet access than normal to some US websites, blaming the APCN2 fault on damage caused by Typhoon Morakot.

"The [APCN2] consortium members have started restoration works, and our engineers are in the process of diverting internet traffic to other cable systems. We expect the situation to return to acceptable levels within the next 24 hours," SingTel spokesman Chia Boon Chong, told IDG.

The fault that hit APCN2 on Wednesday follows two other service disruptions that recently hit the network. One disruption affected APCN2 Segment 7, between Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the other affected APCN2 Segment 1, which connects Singapore and Malaysia. However, both of these disruptions were deemed to be "relatively minor" compared to the disruption that took place Wednesday morning, a source said.

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