[photopress:cable_map_2007_earthquake.jpg,thumb,alignright]A 7.1-magnitude earthquake just south of Taiwan knocked an unprecedented seven submarine communications cables out of service on December 26, impairing international communications to China plus Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore. Never before have so many cables been damaged simultaneously: of the nine cables that pass through the Luzon Strait, only two cables, Asia Netcom’s EAC and the older Guam-Philippines Cable, escaped damage.
The suggestion has been made that there was a lack of investment in Asian cable infrastructure. TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map 2007 shows this not to be correct. An array of undersea cables connect the countries of Asia to one another and to the world.
In the past year, three of these cable systems, Asia Netcom’s EAC, FLAG and REACH’s North Asia Loop and the APCN-2 consortium cable upgraded their networks’ capacity, in order to accommodate growing traffic volumes.
However, most intra-Asian systems are operating at less than 15 percent of their potential capacities, leaving plenty of room for future traffic growth.
What steps can be taken to protect against future network outages in Asia?
The upcoming deployment of new cables, such as the Trans Pacific Express and Asia American Gateway, will provide new routing options, helping to improve networks’ resiliency. While many buyers already purchase capacity on multiple cable systems to provide redundant capacity, network operators may procure capacity on an even more diverse array of cable systems in earthquake prone regions, and deploy fault-tolerant mesh networking technologies over these cables.
Finally, these outages may increase interest in routing more capacity from Asia and Europe over the trans-Russia networks of Rostelecom and TransTeleCom. Click on the small version of the map to see it in full. It is well worth the effort.