Internet connections creeping back as operators up capacity

Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The country's internet capacity slightly improved Friday as major telecommunication operators succeeded in rerouting connections to several foreign backbones and a satellite link.

"At least three of the major telecommunication operators have notified us that their internet capacities have slightly recovered," Post and Telecommunications Directorate General director Basuki Yusuf Iskandar told The Jakarta Post.

Telkom, the country's largest telecommunications company reported that it had raised its internet capacity from 17 percent or 430 megabytes after the Taiwan earthquake, to 33 percent or 1,310 megabyte on Friday around 7 p.m., Basuki said.

Meanwhile, PT Excelcomindo, a major mobile telecommunications operator, said that it had its internet connections were running at 50 percent, up from 20 percent on Tuesday.

No clear capacity percentage report was available from Indosat, the second largest telecommunications company in the country. However, Basuki said, it was estimated it would regain 40 percent of its access to the internet by January 8.

Basuki said that Indosat had launched new transit connections to the American backbone through Singapore's Starhub and Equinix and another to Australia's Telstra.

"Indosat also made a new connection through DS-3 satellite to USA's MCI," he said referring to a company that holds one of the world's largest Internet protocol networks.

He also added that Indosat's subsidiary in the internet and multimedia business, PT Indosat Mega Media, and the state owned PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, were considering launching satellite links to Hawaii.

Basuki said that undersea fiber optic connections were preferable to satellite connections as they had a larger connection capacity.

"Say if a cable connection could carry 5 gigabytes of data to 10 gigabytes, a satellite can only allow one," he said.

He also said that in a normal circumstances, local operators are prohibited to rent connections from international providers.

"We are in a state of emergency now. So we will allow the operators to do that until the situation comes back to normal," Basuki said.

At least eight fiber-optic cables were damaged by the earthquake and aftershocks that struck southern Taiwan on Dec. 26, rupturing a group of pipes linking Asia to the rest of the world.

Ships are now scouring the ocean bed for broken fiber-optic lines for repairs that may take two to four weeks, officials said.

Other Asian countries where their internet, cable and telephone services were affected include India, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China.

Basuki said earlier that no telephone connections in Indonesia had been impaired and that all domestic internet connections remained normal but with slower speeds as the directorate was prioritizing the available bandwidth for national security and financial transactions.
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