Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

news on, in which China Telecom, one the biggest ISP in China, release an official statement( with my rough translation)


China Telecom has confirmed that, according to China institute of earthquake monitoring, at Dec 26, 20:26-20:34 Beijing Time, 7.2 and 6.7 magnitude earth quake have occurred in the South China Sea. Affected by the earthquake, Sina-US cable, Asia-Pacific Cable 1, Asia-Pacific Cable 2, FLAG Cable, Asia-Euro Cable and FNAL cable was broken and cut up. The break-off point is located 15 km south to Taiwan, which severely affected the International and national tele-communication in neighboring regions.


It was also reported that communication directed to China mainland, Taiwan, US and Europe were all massively interrupted. Internet connection to countries and region outside of China mainland became very difficult. Voice communication and telephone services were also affected.


China Telecom has claimed that due to the aftershock of the earthquake, the repairing works would be very tough. In addition undersea operation is also not easy to handle with. So this phenomenon is going to exist for certain period.

This really throws the notion of "cyberspace" into the physical world. My sympathies to everyone affected. Hope they figure out how to fix those cables quickly.

UPDATE: Xeni just picked this up on Boing Boing and linked to the Wikinews article and to the image above.


My colleagues in China report huge problems accessing foreign sites and Hotmail and Yahoo mail. I, in Taipei, Taiwan, however, have had absolutely no problems today accessing any of the "usual suspect" sites such as Yahoo, Google, Gmail, Blogspot, Techcrunch, etc.

Just experienced the results of this first hand. We traveled from Hong-Kong to Taiwan via China Airlines on the 18:45 flight. The first hint that something was up was when we tried to check-in using the Airport Express service in Kowloon and they told us that China Air and EVA computer systems were down. We gave up and headed to the airport for a manual check-in. So a short 10 min delay, and another and then 30 min... When the captain said we might leave in an hour as there was were some ground problems and an undersea cable had snapped (not sure of the link but that's what he said) we asked permission to use out cellphones to let people know back in Taiwan. We got it and ... none of out cellphones picked up a signal.

I guess the service provider needed to contact Taiwan to check the ID of the phones. Anyway finally home at 11:45, thanks to our airport pick-up who amazingly waited.

It's strange that we trust communication technology so implicitly and when it fails seem so lost. A beak in a single cable can have so much effect. Maybe we are not so far from the Victorian telegraph wires and we would like to think.

I don't have any data to back up this claim but I did notice a lot less spam in my inbox over the past 24 hours. Coincidence?

I was surprised to learn that besides China, other Asian countries including Malaysia were affected too. Internet connections slowed to a crawl according to my friends and family members.

Bob cook - not one cable. Six or seven key cables at a time. And those are huge, carrying several terabytes of traffic.

Cameron - with china off the 'net - that means there's a huge internet connected population [quite a few of them with virus infected PCs] that are not connected. You might notice a drop from that all by itself.

Adam - a lot of asian countries route traffic via some key providers (Singtel in Singapore, PCCW/Reach in HK, etc) .. and those were among the providers affected by these fiber cuts.

Help! I'm in China and can't access hotmail or any overseas websites. Is any traffic getting out of China does anyone know ... or are we in splendid cyber-isolation?

Vietnam is also heavily affected. Our office received no emails for 02 days. It is amazing how we manage a day without an email.

WOW, I had no idea that it was this bad. Thanks for the post on this. I heard someone talking about it but I didn't know how serious it was...


Thanks for this very good article ... i must insert this on my site in Poland ... Thanks

today was earth quake in China.

I don't have any data to back up this claim but I did notice a lot less spam in my inbox over the past 30 days.

Maybe I'm a little weird but I still find it strange, weird, and interesting that the oceans are layered with cables upon cables that keeps our telecommunications going. I think it's weird because, well, it's like the whole earth is wired up. Secondly, I would have thought most telecommunications would be satellite by now, and that Asia especially would be using satellite. I guess, having satellites all across our airspace is like having cables all across our ocean floor. Also, I've always wondered what stops satellites from crashing into each other. I guess I'm not clever enough to know, really.

Imagine a global wireless system? That's interesting.

thank you for sharing your knowledge