On Tuesday December 26, 2006 at 12:25 UTC (20:25 local time), a maganitude 7.0 earthquake struck off the southwest coast of Taiwan, approximately 22.8 km west southwest of Hengchun, Pingtung County, Taiwan (the 2006 Hengchun/Taiwan earthquake). Eight submarine cables were cut after the earthquake and its aftershocks, catastrophically disrupted Internet services in Asia, affecting many Asian countries. Financial transactions, particularly in the foreign exchange market were seriously affected as well. The 2006 Taiwan Earthquak renderred significant impacts on submarine networks.
Submarine Cables and Landing Stations in Taiwan
As of Dec 2006, there are 8 international submarine cables connecting Taiwan, including APCN, APCN-2, C2C, China-US CN, EAC, FLAG FEA, FNAL/RNAL and SMW3, landing at Fangshan, Toucheng, Tanshui and Pali cable landing stations.
Geophically, Taiwan locates in the circum-Pacific seismic belt, and the south and east coast of Taiwan are crowded with submarine cables, which makes the Taiwan coast a highly risk area in the submarine networks.
Cables Cut in the 2006 Hengchun, Taiwan earthquake
After the earthquake and its aftershocks, 8 submarine cable systems were cut, with 18 cable cuts:
- APCN, 2 cuts
- APCN-2, 2 cuts
- C2C, 3 cuts
- China-US CN, 3 cuts
- EAC, 3 cuts
- FLAG FEA, 1 cut
- FNAL/RNAL, 2 cuts
- SMW3, 2 cuts
Significant Impacts on Communications
As results of the earthquake and multiple cable cuts, international communications over submarine networks were seriously disrupted, its impacts were immediately apparent and widely reported over the news media:
- Chunghwa Telecom, the largest operator in Taiwan, reported Internet outage of 100% to HK and South East Asia and 74% to Mainland China, though withouth impact to its northward traffic to Japan and the USA.
- PCCW, the largest operator in Hong Kong, reported more than 50% data capacity down.
- China Telecom and China Unicom, the top 2 Internet service providers in China, reported outage of more than 90% of traffic to the USA and Europe as most of their traffic going through Hong Kong and then northward to Japan and the USA. The MSN, Hotmail and Yahoo were completed disrupted.
- Singtel, KDDI etc. also reported seriously impact.
The 2006 Taiwan Earthquake renderred on the telecommunications industry not just a disaster, to some extent, far more positive and significant impacts on the submarne networks and the industry:
- the importance of submarine networks to daily life and business worldwide was massively recognized.
- the whole industry are reviewing the safety, diversity and resiliency of submarine networks, and preparing corresponding measures.