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Submarine cable problems cause internet outage on Taiwan's Matsu Islands

Chunghwa Telecom switches to microwave transmission, Matsu residents protest at being ‘cut off from world’

Night view of Taiwan's Matsu Islands. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

Night view of Taiwan's Matsu Islands. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Residents on Taiwan’s outlying Matsu Islands woke up to no internet connection and a spotty cellphone signal on Saturday (Dec. 4) morning following a submarine communication cable malfunction.

UDN reported the cellphone service reverted to 3G, and residents were unable to connect to websites on their phones. They also said the call signal was of low quality and the internet connection on computers was unstable or slow.

Chunghwa Telecom’s Matsu office was cited as saying that a malfunction in the third submarine communication cable between Taiwan and Matsu caused the outage. The problem occurred at 3.25 a.m. on Saturday, and technicians were testing to confirm the source of the problem.

As communication on the Matsu Islands is now supported by the backup microwave transmission service, signals may be affected by the weather conditions. Chunghwa Telecom is working to improve the quality, according to UDN.

In response to complaints from residents in the Juguan Township area about the frequent signal outages, Chunghwa Telecom explained that Chinese sand-dredging ships have gathered around the area where the submarine cable is located twice over the past three years. Chunghua Telecom hired international submarine cable maintenance ships for repairs, spending NT$15 million (US$542,100) each time.

After a cable was repaired on Dec. 11, 2020, it was damaged again two days later, Chunghwa Telecom told UDN. Since then, the company has switched to the less reliable microwave transmission in order to continue providing service in the two areas, per UDN.