Mapping Strategy points to maps of undersea cable routes featured at Teleography. Over at Satcom there’s an overview of the problems caused by the Taiwan earthquake (and satellite solutions resorted to by some countries). (Mapping Strategies in another entry says Asia hasn’t learned and applied the lessions the US did in the wake of 9-11.)
James Seng says a disruption on this scale hasn’t taken place since 1994, and explains how submarine cables are fixed and looks at Singapore’s cable situation and future solutions (and points to angry letters in the Singapore press, surely something new):
The logical solution is to develop more submarine fibers to the west, to Europe/India and then from there across Altantic ocean so we have a loop. Believe me, IDA has competent people who already knows this (and long time ago I would say). But multi-billions dollars project is going to take time. Not to mention the challenges to lay across Straits of Malacca (another story, another day). Alt, go down to Australia and then across the Pacific to US altho going to Australia cuts through the coral rift, technical and environment-politically challenging.
What about using satellite as some angry letters in the papers suggest?
One fiber optic core at current economical technology carries 10Gbps of traffic. Using satellite, assuming the state of the art 10bit/hz, we would need to reserve 1000Mhz of channel bandwidth to match ONE core of fiber optic. Submarine fibers generally has 4-8 pairs of fiber core so do your own math. The latency for satellite is also 400-500ms per hop. To get to US, we need approximately 2 hop.
One commenter in Seng’s blog points to how the Philippines might have an opportunity to work with Malaysia and other countries to come up with a new cable network:
A reasonable alternative route to the usual North Asia path would be SG or Malaysia or eastern Thailand, and then to either Phillipines or Viet Nam, then to Guam and then to Hawaii, then over to North America. The fibre routes that transit Guam from east, west, and south were not harmed by this incident. Although Guam looks small, there is lots of potential for traffic add/drop there because it is the western-most US territory in the mid-Pacific. Manila and Viet Nam also have a fair bit of add/drop potential, particularly southern parts of Viet Nam where the newest “Tiger” economy is booming.
A Malaysian blogger, Kai-Loon, even helpfully posted a proxy server people can use to bypass the cut cables in Taiwan. And yet a blog entry from last week at eeetsie’s world points out how irrelevant the Philippines seems in the disruption caused by the earthquake. How I wish the public would receive information along the lines of what Telekom Malaysia has released. Not to mention this appeal:
TM Malaysia Business chief executive officer (CEO), Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa said: “This episode has clearly pointed out how dependent the Asian countries are on these links and it has certainly persuaded many providers, TM included, to rethink our respective business continuity strategies for the future in view of the Pacific basin’s susceptibility to natural disasters.”
“This recent disruption of our Internet services has also highlighted to us the sheer number of local sites that are not hosted locally in the country. Malaysia has more than sufficient capacity for web hosting services and it would be timely for us to collectively have a change of mindset with regards to our local capabilities in hosting Malaysian content,” he added.
“I would like to encourage all organizations and individuals to host their websites locally not only to leverage on the country’s strong infrastructure for hosting services but also to be more self-reliant to ensure that disasters like this do not have such impact on them.
“This directly fits in with the purpose of having the recently launched Malaysian Internet Exchange (MyIX) for improving domestic traffic and keeping it within the country.”
Now “keeping traffic within the country” may sound dangerously close to the kind of thinking that had observers worried for a time concerning China. I recall at some conferences last year, it seemed there was a time when China either threatened, or contemplated, setting up a kind of internet separate from the world wide web, but it proved to economically risky (though politically quite tempting). Here at home, the concern is that access to US hosting and domain registration, etc. serves as a healthy foil to Philippine companies.
But it would be a pity if the slowdown in the ‘net didn’t result in anything more than people patiently bearing the inconvenience.
the layman probably knows everything to know about Singapore and Malaysia’s situation but for a Filipino, there seems precious little information coming from any source. Certainly media hasn’t been focusing on this issue, which is odd considering how not just the call center, but medical transcription, and other services, are surely affected.