Why Internet connection is so slow

Internet connection in the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries has lost speed since August 12, 2009, following multiple cable faults discovered in two undersea fiber optic cable networks connecting Asia-Pacific countries.

Cuts within the 19,000-kilometer Asia Pacific Cable Network 2, which has a landing station in Batangas, affected speeds of Internet connection in the region.  The top telecom companies in the Philippines use the affected cable network.

The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 also sustained multiple faults.  “These faults have been detected between Singapore and Malaysia and between China and Taiwan . The exact cause of these faults is still unknown,” Philippine Long Distance Telecom Co. (PLDT) said in an advisory.

While telecom companies were still investigating the reason behind the fiber cuts, the incidents were reported following the passage of typhoon Morakot across Taiwan and China .

The cuts also came two days after a 6.4 tremor was recorded on Monday in the Pacific Ocean about 170 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, according to the US Geological Survey.

Subscribers of PLDT DSL, SmartBro, and Globe Tattoo have complained of slower broadband connection yesterday, taking them two to three minutes to open websites that are hosted abroad, from the usual three to five seconds.

Smart Communications was the first to offer an explanation for the slower connection.

"Smart international and broadband services are adversely affected by the double cable break that occurred this morning between China and Taiwan ; and Malaysia and Singapore ," Smart said.

It said the double cable cuts are within the Asia-Pacific Cable Network 2, a submarine telecommunications cable linking several countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The network has landing points in Chongming, Shanghai, China; Shantou, Guangdong Province, China; Lantau Island, Islands District, Hong Kong; Chikura, Chiba Prefecture, Japan; Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan; Pusan, South Korea; Kuantan, Pahang State, Malaysia; Batangas Bay, Philippines; Katong, Singapore; and Tanshui, Taipei County, Taiwan.

"Affected services include international voice and SMS, as well as Internet services under Smart Bro, and Smart Bro Plug-It. Subscribers may experience difficulty in initiating or receiving overseas calls, and sending or receiving text messages abroad," Smart said.

"Smart Bro subscribers, on the other hand, may encounter slow or intermittent Internet connection, and difficulty in accessing Web sites hosted overseas," it added.

Smart said it is still awaiting word on the cause of the fiber cuts.  "In the meantime, Smart would like to assure the general public that close coordination is on-going with our network counterparts abroad to aid in restoring normal services as soon as possible," it said.

PLDT said its clients may experience slow or intermittent internet services. “The PLDT group is now re-routing traffic to other cable systems and coordinating with partners in affected international cable systems to restore full capacity as soon as possible.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” it said.

Globe Telecom's customer service said the slower connection in its Tattoo plug-it broadband service was due to a system maintenance.  "We are undergoing system enhancement over the next 24 hours," a customer service representative said.

Singapore Telecom, which partially owns Globe Telecom, however, was quoted as saying that a cable fault occured in the submarine cable network.

Technology website ZDNetAsia reported that Internet connection speeds are expected to return to normal in the evening of August 13, based on an advisory of Asian telcos.

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