Ships sail to repair the Internet

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As 2006 draws to a close not many of us give much thought to the Internet being pretty reliable. Sure there may be the odd blip with your own phone line and occasionally websites may not be available, but what of the Internet itself? A salutatory reminder came this week with the earthquake near Taiwan

Up to a dozen fiber-optic cables cross the ocean floor south of Taiwan, carrying traffic between China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, the U.S. and the island itself. Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan’s largest phone company, said the quake damaged several of them, and repairs could take two to three weeks.

It’s a common occurrence for communication cables to be severed, but the great thing about the Internet is that there are so many cables offering different routes for data to travel that Internet users generally don’t notice any problems. In this instance however so many cables were severed that Taiwan lost almost all of its telephone capacity to Japan, mainland China and the United States.

eBay posted an announcement on the US site to warn users involved in transactions with Asia and Australia may experience a delay in communications with buyers and sellers from those regions.

To fully restore service cable laying ships will have to dredge the cables laying on the sea bed and raise them to the surface for repair in a process that will take up to two weeks to complete. Four ships are en route and should be in position by Tuesday to commence repairs.



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