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12/27/2006
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Asian Net Access Improves Slightly After Quake

According to the Internet Traffic Report Web site, Asia's average connectivity index climbed to 51 by midday Wednesday, up from 43 earlier.

Although the earthquake that hit Asia on Tuesday cut several undersea cables carrying Internet traffic into and out of the region, some areas have managed to remain online.

According to the Internet Traffic Report Web site, Asia's average connectivity index climbed to 51 by midday Wednesday, up from 43 earlier. ITR uses a 0-100 scoring system to gauge the speed of the Internet. Some of the routers tested by ITR, such as those in China, posted numbers in the upper 30s by the middle of the day, while others -- notably Singapore -- remained flat-lined at 0.

Asia's packet loss -- when data packets are lost or dropped, and then must be retransmitted, slowing down the overall response of the Web -- ranged from 20% to 50% during the first half of the day.

The main quake, which was measured at magnitude 7.1 by the U.S. Geological Survey, struck 45 miles off Taiwan's southern coast at 8:34 p.m. Tuesday local time, 7:34 a.m. Eastern in the United States. Two people were killed. An aftershock eight minutes later was rated at 6.9 on the Richter scale.

Various Asian media outlets also reported that some services, such as Skype and MSN Messenger, were unavailable in some areas.

While it may take weeks to repair the severed and damaged cables, some traffic has already been rerouted to other lines. Singapore's SingTel, for example, said that its submarine cables linking to the United States and Europe were not affected by the quakes. Local Web sites were also still available to users.

The Internet Traffic Report site offers a Windows-based client that monitors the ITR index; it can be downloaded here.

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