Taiwan quake disrupts phone services

By : |December 27, 2006 0

TAIPEI – A strong earthquake that rocked Taiwan initially knocked out more than half of its international telecommunications capacity on Wednesday, before the situation improved in the afternoon.

The quake, magnitude 7.1 according to the U.S. Geological Survey and 6.7 according to the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau, caused serious damage to two of the four major undersea cables used by Chunghwa Telecom to connect the island with the rest of the world, Chunghwa said.

It added that the damage would take two to three weeks to repair completely.

Calls to Southeast Asia were the worst affected, with less than 10 percent going through at 0500 GMT — still an improvement from the morning, when less than two percent were going through, according to Chunghwa, Taiwan’s biggest telecoms carrier.

Nearly all calls were going through to China, Canada and the United States in the early afternoon, compared with 40 percent earlier. The service to Japan was up to 30 percent, compared with 11 percent earlier.

"Our priority is to improve the quality. We don’t have time to think about the (cost of) the damage," said Lin Jen-hon, president of Chunghwa Telecom’s international business group.

The Taiwan stock market took the quake largely in its stride, with the main TAIEX share index gaining 0.07 percent on the day. Chunghwa shares were unchanged at T$60.

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