Internet and telecommunication services in Asia have started to recover after undersea cables were damaged by two earthquakes earlier this week.
But Asia’s technology infrastructure showed signs of recovery Thursday, following service disruptions caused by a series of powerful earthquakes off Taiwan's southern coast on Tuesday.
"It's improving by the hour," said Eric Loh, a spokesman for Starhub Internet, which offers cable and wireless internet services in Singapore.
A pair of powerful earthquakes rattled southern Taiwan within eight minutes of each other on Tuesday evening, local time, causing damage to undersea telecommunication cables, just as many in the region were marking the anniversary of the destructive 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said the first was a magnitude 6.7 on the Richter scale, but observers in Japan and the US said the earthquake was more powerful. The US Geographical Survey (USGS) said it was stronger at 7.1 and Japan's Meteorological Agency estimated it at a magnitude of 6.9.
The CWB said the second quake was slightly smaller, at magnitude 6.4, while USGS estimated the second quake at 7.0 and the Japanese Meteorological Agency estimated it was magnitude 7.2. Two people were killed by the quakes, and dozens wounded, according to press reports.
Repairing the cables will cost about $1.5 million (£771,000), Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Company said in a statement to the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The operator, which lost much of its international capacity following the quake, lost approximately three times as much in revenue due to the quake, the filing said.
Repairing the damaged cables will take two to three weeks, Chunghwa Telecom said.
The effects of Tuesday's quakes reverberated across Asia. Damage to the undersea cables brought access to international Web sites from Singapore to a near standstill, with local operators Starhub, Singapore Telecommunications, and MobileOne all reporting serious slowdowns on Wednesday due to the quake.
By Thursday, Starhub and others had managed to divert traffic to undamaged cables. "Regional telcos are all scrambling to get whatever unused cables are available," Starhub's Loh said, noting that improving service levels across the region will not return to normal for some time yet.
"There is still some trouble for international calls to Southeast Asia," said Haruhiko Maede, a KDDI spokesman in Tokyo. "It can be difficult to get connected but we have secured some third party routes so it's getting easier."
Maede said 177 leased lines remained out of action due to the cable failure, down from the 290 lines that were affected on Wednesday.
The disruption also continued to affect financial news services, such as Reuters, which was unable to deliver real-time quotes and market data to customers in South Korea and Hong Kong. The company had earlier experienced similar problems getting data to subscribers in Japan and Taiwan.
Internet access remained slow in China on Thursday, with many international websites not accessible, according to users in Shanghai and Beijing.
(Martyn Williams, in Tokyo, contributed to this story.)