Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom said Tuesday two ships will soon start repairing undersea cables, a week after an earthquake off the island's coast disrupted telephone and Internet connections across Asia.
The two ships will take two to three weeks to complete their task, said Wu Chih-ming, a senior official at Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's largest telecommunications company.
"The ships are expected to arrive in Taiwan today and tomorrow and will work at sea over the next two weeks," Wu said Tuesday. Two more ships will join later, he said, without elaborating.
Wu said one of the ships is Japanese-registered and sailed to Taiwan from Japan. The other, British-registered, sailed to Taiwan from the Philippines, he said. Both are specially equipped to repair undersea cables and had to complete other repair work before setting out for Taiwan.
The December 26 quake – measured at magnitude 6.7 by Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau and 7.1 by the U.S. Geological Survey – snapping undersea cables off Taiwan, cutting telecommunications across the region and leaving companies scrambling to reroute traffic through satellites and cables that were not damaged.
Services were gradually restored in the days following the quake, but have not fully recovered.
In Hong Kong, the government warned Tuesday that Internet services in the territory could experience delays because of unusual volumes of traffic following the long New Year's weekend.
"As most businesses and schools resume operation today, Internet users visiting overseas Web sites may experience slow response or network congestion," the Office of Telecommunications Authority said in a statement.
"E-mails to and from overseas servers, especially those with large files such as images, will take longer time than usual to reach destinations," it said.
The data-transmission lines, made of clusters of glass fibers wrapped in protective material, carry Internet data and voice calls as pulses of light.
Chunghwa Telecom estimates the repairs will cost about $1.5 million.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.