Of Earthquakes, Tsunami, and Politics

March 14th, 2011 by · 3 Comments

Telecom Ramblings doesn't get many readers from Japan, but to those it does have - godspeed.  Japan is obviously staggering from a huge disaster that words cannot begin to convey.  The earthquake itself wasn't that bad due to their preparations, but humanity has yet to create a tsunami proof building code.  The submarine cables that serve the island nation, however, came through it with manageable casualties.  There are reports of some damage to APCN-2 and a WSJ article suggests some others took a hit, but nothing beyond the capabilities of the redundancy one expects these sorts of assets to have. That's how it should be of course, what with ring topologies and such - and no choke points running over fault lines where all the cables happen to lie like in Taiwan a couple of years back.

In fact, some reports have the internet barely noticing, except for data centers actually in Japan directly affected of course.  Well, as long as neither you nor the data you want to reach aren't in Japan - in which case landlines, wireless networks, and power are all in various states of emergency.  But then if one is in Japan, one has bigger things to worry about just now than bandwidth - nuclear meltdowns come to mind.  Can you imagine if a quake and a wall of water that big hit the US eastern seaboard? I fear we wouldn't have weathered it nearly so well.

So if the internet is mostly unaffected by all this, why can't I reliably see US websites today from my current perch in Beijing?  Oh yeah, politics.  Forgot about that.  Yes, the Great Firewall of China is currently causing visitors more trouble than normal, as the government attempts to dampen dissent of the jasmine variety during its big national party congresses and such.  I hope they finish mucking around soon, it's causing me headaches bigger than the earthquake.

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Categories: Undersea cables

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3 Comments So Far


  • Anon says:

    Japan-US, APCN2, EAC and C2C are affected, with some problems reported on PC-1. Pacnet’s landing station in Japan (for EAC and C2C) is inaccessible.

    • Rob Powell says:

      Yes, the affected systems do seem to have grown in number daily. But at least this time the packets are still getting through. It’s no picnic connecting from overseas right now, but it’s still working.

  • Anon says:

    The situation seems to be getting worse in Japan. Force Majure provisions are sure to be in effect for most carriers, if not now soon. My heart goes out to Japan and all those helping with the tragedy.

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