Fiber effect of Japan earthquake still sorting out

Efforts to repair or circumvent damage to fiber-optic submarine cables in the area of the Japan earthquake and tsunami continue, according to numerous reports.

Efforts to repair or circumvent damage to fiber-optic submarine cables in the area of the Japan earthquake and tsunami continue, according to numerous reports.

NTT Communications reported March 14 on its website that “some” of the submarine cables it uses to connect with other parts of Asia and the U.S. had been at least partially damaged. However, the use of redundant backup submarine cable routes had enabled services in and out of the country to maintain uninterrupted services.

Data center services also continue with no effect from the earthquake in Japan, NTT said. However, the same could not be said for enterprise IP-VPN and e-VLAN services in the Tohoku region, one of the regions most heavily affected by the Japan earthquake. NTT reported these services were “partially unavailable.”

The submarine cables to which NTT referred likely include undersea fiber routes the company acquired in 2009 from Pacific Crossing. The Pacific Crossing website notes that connections on both PC-1 North and PC-1 West have been interrupted by the Japan earthquake. “Pacific Crossing is currently inspecting the damage, and is commencing restoration activities,” the announcement adds. Connections on PC-1 South and PC-1 East were not affected, according to information on the site.

KDDI also reported cable outages. However, as of March 16, the company reported that international leased line and IP-VPN services had been restored and that Internet services had almost returned to normal.

Meanwhile, several sources report that Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom has experienced service disruptions on its APCN-2 and Japan-US cable links.

However, operators on the Chinese mainland appear to be fairing better. The Xinhua News Agency reported March 14 that international communications had “mostly resumed” in China. China Telecom and China Unicom both reported service slowdowns because of the effects of the week but had been successful in making up for much if not all of the damaged capacity, according to Xinhua.

Farther from the epicenter of the Japan earthquake, Telstra International says that despite what it called “multiple cable breaks and damage to communications infrastructure” due to the Japan earthquake and tsunami, it had restored cable connections into the region by Tuesday, March 15. Telstra International reported failures on Japan-US and APCN-2, but used bandwidth on the Tata Global Network, China-US, and Asia America Gateway cables systems to restore services. It said that the Japan earthquake did not affect services on the REACH North Asia Loop and Australia-Japan cable systems.



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