Undersea cable damage slows Internet in China

Nine undersea cables were damaged during an earthquake and a typhoon

Internet service in China was disrupted for a third day today after an earthquake damaged undersea cables used by the country’s telecommunications operators.

Access to Web sites based in the U.S. and some Asian countries stopped or slowed on Monday afternoon for many Chinese Internet users. The partial service outage affected China Unicom and China Telecom, the country’s two major fixed-line operators.

Nine undersea cables were damaged off the southeast coast of Taiwan during the earthquake Monday and in undersea landslides caused by Typhoon Morakot last week, China Telecom said in a statement. The operator had been using five of those cables, including the APCN2 (Asia-Pacific Cable Network 2), it said.

The carrier is rerouting traffic through backup channels and working with foreign operators to rent or buy their international bandwidth.

China Unicom cables were damaged in the typhoon last week as well, but Internet service was not affected until a backup cable was damaged as well this week, the company said in a statement.

The carrier aims to restore full service in about a week, it said.

Among the cut-off services was Windows Live Messenger, a popular chat client in Chinese offices and Internet cafés. The program could be accessed from Beijing today, and China Unicom and China Telecom said they had restored part of their international service. But many U.S. Web sites remained inaccessible from Beijing, and representatives at the carriers declined to say when service would fully recover.

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