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Update: Asian undersea cable disruption slows Internet access

By Sumner Lemon
August 12, 2009 04:41 AM ET

IDG News Service - A segment of the Asia-Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) undersea cable network between China and Taiwan suffered a serious cable fault on Wednesday, causing Internet traffic to be rerouted onto other undersea cables and slowing Internet access for some users in Southeast Asia.

At about 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday, local time, an alarm signaled a cable fault on Segment 7 of APCN2, which connects Hong Kong and Shantou, China. The disruption caused a temporary loss of service on the undersea link but all customers that use the cable were soon shifted to capacity on other cables, according to a source familiar with the situation.

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.

The exact cause of the APCN2 fault was not immediately known. The 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.

The incident was likely the main reason that Internet access appeared slower for some users in Singapore on Wednesday, the source said.

Undersea cables are used to transport much of the world's Internet traffic and can be easily 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.

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), which is an investor in APCN2, said its users may experience slower Internet access than normal to some U.S. Web sites, 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, said in an e-mail statement.

A spokesman for Starhub, another Singapore ISP that holds a stake in the cable, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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, the source said.

The cause of the two earlier faults on APCN2 was not immediately clear.

APCN2 isn't the only Asian undersea cable currently suffering from a service disruption.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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