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Asian telecom companies unwilling to invest more in backup lines to cope with disasters

Asian telecom companies unwilling to invest more in backup lines to cope with disasters

Asian telecom companies said Friday they will not invest more in backup lines to protect against disasters like the recent earthquake that snarled telephone and Internet service across Asia.
The quake, which damaged undersea cables off Taiwan on Tuesday, was so rare that there was no need to spend money on extra lines, said Wu Chih-ming, a senior official at Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's biggest telecommunications company.
Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau measured the quake at magnitude 6.7 while the U.S. Geological Survey put it at 7.1.
"We won't consider laying more backup cables for now because such an incident might not happen in another 100 years," Wu said.
On Friday, companies from Japan to Singapore were still scrambling to fully restore service. Since it will take weeks to repair the cables off Taiwan, companies were rerouting traffic through satellites and cables that were not damaged.
Many of the cables are owned by groups of telecom companies, who share the costs and capacity.
The telecom crisis stunned Asia and demonstrated how tightly the region is bound together by hundreds of undersea fiber-optic cables.
The lines, made of clusters of glass fibers wrapped in protective material, carry Internet data and voice calls as pulses of light.
South Korea's largest telecom company, KT, said it worked through the night with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., or SingTel, to restore damaged lines.
Earlier, KT spokesman Huh Gun said officials at SingTel, one of Southeast Asia's largest telephone companies, had stopped work early on Thursday, delaying the recovery efforts.
But KT later said there was "miscommunication" within the company.
"KT and SingTel worked through Thursday night to upgrade the service," said Sung Won-jae, another KT spokesman.
SingTel said Friday that Internet access to international Web sites, as well as services for Blackberry mobile devices, had been fully restored.
"As part of our redirection effort, cable traffic to the U.S. is being rerouted via Europe or Australia as well as using other channels such as satellite links and landlines," the company said.
Four repair ships were on their way to the damage site and were expected to arrive Tuesday, Chunghwa Telecom said.
Repairs, which would cost about NT$50 million (US$1.5 million;