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Ships begin to fix damaged cables


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Extracted from Thai Visa: Thai Visa


TAIPEI: -- Five repair ships have arrived in Taiwanese waters to fix earthquake-damaged undersea cables that have slowed down Internet traffic in the region, but the repair work could last two to three weeks, the state-run Chunghwa Telecom Co said yesterday.


"The repair ships arrived in Taiwan waters on Wednesday and sailed to the site of the damaged cables today," Chunghwa Telecom said in a statement.


"They will check and fix the damaged cables, but the repair will take two to three weeks," the statement said.


The four undersea cables linking Taiwan to south-east Asia, the United States and Europe have a total of nine ruptures caused by the December 26 earthquake off Taiwan's south coast.


The quake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, left two people dead and about 50 injured.


The quake and its aftershocks damaged four of the six undersea cables owned by Chunghwa Telecom, cutting or slowing down the region's voice, data and Internet connections with the outside world.


It also affected business and daily life in neighboring countries as Taiwan is a rerouting point for their undersea cables.


A cable connecting China to the U.S. has three ruptures, one connecting south-east Asia to the Middle East and Western Europe has two ruptures, and two cables forming part of the Asia-Pacific Cable Network have 2 ruptures each.


Repairing the cables is a difficult task because divers must hook up both ends of the ruptured section of cable from the ocean floor up to 1,000 meters below the surface, connect the two ends and test the cable before lowering it to the ocean floor.


Chunghwa Telecom is expected to lose at least 150 million Taiwan dollars (4.5 million U.S. dollars) in repair fees and in lost charge fees which are exempted from the time the undersea cables were damaged until they are repaired.


Because of the incident, Chunghwa Telecom is considering laying more undersea cables, renting a telecommunications satellite or jointly launching a second telecommunications satellite with Singapore Telecom, Chunghwa Telecom Chairman Ho Chen-tan said last week.


Chunghwa Telecom would make a decision regarding renting a satellite, launching a satellite with Singapore Telecom or launching one with a new partner before March, Chunghwa Telecom spokesman Lin Jen-hung said.


Chunghwa Telecom and Singapore Telecom jointly launched the ST-1 telecommunications satellite in 1998 with a lifespan until the year 2011.


--DPA 2007-01-05

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