Fragile Links

SINGAPORE, Dec 28, 2006 (AFP) – The chaos in Asia’s Internet service sparked by an undersea earthquake shows the region’s cable network is too fragile and overly reliant on connections to the United States, industry observers said Thursday.

Millions of people across Asia were enduring a second day without full Internet services after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan late Tuesday and disturbed several massive offshore submarine cables that link Asian countries with the US and beyond.

“Instead of being so dependent on connections to North America, Asia might want to spend some money on connecting to Europe,” said Ross Veitch, who set up Yahoo Southeast Asia and is now the chief products officer with travel search engine Bezurk.com.

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and elsewhere all experienced disruptions to Internet services after the quake hit.

Veitch said the Internet was designed to be re-routed in the event of damage.

“In practice, so much traffic is funnelled through a small number of fibre-optic submarine cables. It’s a lot more fragile than most people think,” Veitch said from Perth, Australia, where service on his BlackBerry device was disrupted until Thursday morning.