Earthquake disrupts Internet

The Taiwan earthquake that occured late last year showed the world how dependant they were on communications technology. However I was thinking more about the lessons that this event brought about…

The Internet was designed to contain redundant links. It was supposed to withstand breakdowns within the network. And it did have redundant links through other continents and countries. Why did a single point of failure cause a drop in more than 50% of connectivity across Asia? Why was so much traffic preferred over the Taiwan link? Was it because it was cheaper so everyone turned to its link rather than the others? Was the Internet backbone design flawed to allow Taiwan to connect so many links?

I understand certain organisations or telephony networks might be directly connect to those links, but what about the rest of the major ISPs? I would expect slowness but not a breakdown such that it may cripples economies due to lack of financial information getting across. In fact economy crippling might be even on a terrorist agenda. (No I’m nothing near one.)

Perhaps, and hopefully, I’m just missing some information that gives me this mis-interpretation.

Update: According to this report [1], economical factors are preventing the network to be laid the way they should. I should have guessed.

But nature’s precise targeting alone cannot be blamed for Wednesday’s virtual blackout. It costs up to US$500,000 ($767,000) to lay a single kilometre of cables. Thousands of such kilometres were laid in the 1990s, but the returns dried up and no one was keen to pour money into fibre-optic activity for years. The next wave of investments is overdue, and just earlier this month a consortium announced plans to spend US$500 million on a high-speed undersea link directly between the United States and China.

Source: Channel News Asia

[1] The cable disconnect: Channel News Asia

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