Mother nature sure has its ways of showing us who is boss. Even with all the technological advances we have come up with in the course of human history, it only takes one calamity–or force majeure as some would put it–to bring us back to the dark ages. Well, that’s putting it very bluntly. We’re not actually experiencing another ice age yet, nor has TEOTWAWKI arrived, but in some parts of Asia, we feel like the Information Age has been put on hold.
Since Wednesday morning (+0800 GMT), some parts of Asia have been disconnected from the rest of the world due to a Magnitude 6.7 earthquake that hit Taiwan. This caused breakage in undersea cables that serve as links/relays to the rest of the world. Not only were the Internet pipes badly affected, but telecommunication lines were also severed, cutting international telephone links.
A “fiber break” in the major submarine cables linking the Philippines to the international network caused a nationwide disruption in Internet and telephone services, local telecommunications company said Wednesday.
“These are major submarine cables linking the Philippines to the United States. We said earlier that it was only the Internet but apparently it has affected international voice calls,” John Rojo, head of corporate communications of Bayantel, in a telephone interview.
AP reports that repairs could take more than a couple of weeks due to the magnitude of the damage.
Up to a dozen fiber-optic cables cross the ocean floor south of Taiwan, carrying traffic between China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, the U.S. and the island itself. Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan’s largest phone company, said the quake damaged several of them, and repairs could take two to three weeks.
The CNN reports (via AP) that 80 percent of connectivity in affected areas has been restored. However, my connection is still very spotty–most of the sites I access are available, but many are loading very slowly. Still, I consider myself lucky since some friends, clients and online buddies have zero connectivity up to now.
Connection locally is okay, but the link to even some of our close neighbors in Asia is pretty bad.
What to do in times like these? Well, coming from someone whose means of living is heavily dependent on a decent Internet connection, I can say I can still manage and survive.
- Have a backup plan. If you can connect to your broadband provider , but cannot access websites, chances are your ISP connects through the pipes that were affected. Other ISPs may already have backup links that work. Try connecting using dialup instead (check with the company first or with people you know who use that ISP if they’re already online). Or you can try connecting through a proxy server that has a decent uplink. I know of several ISPs here in the Philippines that balance the load through different bandwidth providers–and when I use their (password-protected) proxy servers, connection is usually fast!
- Avoid International calls. I know it’s the holidays and it’s the time for greeting friends and family wherever they may be. But I’m sure your friends and relatives in other parts of the world would understand if you cannot get in touch with them for now.
- Inform everyone that you’ll be unavailable for the next few days (or weeks). Maybe you can still post on your blog, or you know someone with a working connection you can send email with. At least people won’t wonder where the heck you’ve been.
Perhaps the best way to spend the time disconnected would be to relax and chill out. It’s the holidays, after all. And if you haven’t taken some time off (or offline) to spend with your family or even find quiet time by yourself, maybe this is a good opportunity to do so. Personally, I’m thankful I’m still in one piece, and no one close to me has been hurt by the disaster.