Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Japan Earthquake Disrupts Wireless Networks, Manufacturing

Reports of effects on tech infrastructure from the huge earthquake that rocked Japan today have so far been spotty and inconsistent. Here’s a little of what we know so far:

Marketwatch reported that two or three undersea cables belonging to China United Network Communications Group Co. were affected by the quake. The information was incomplete, and it wasn’t immediately clear specifically which of its cables were affected and to what extent. Meanwhile Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom Co. reported some damage to the APCN-2 cable.

I talked with Stephan Beckart at Telegeography, a firm that tracks the submarine cable business, and he said there are 20 undersea cables touching Japan. (Click the image above to see a bigger version of the map.) He said few countries are better prepared for a major quake than Japan, and that this extends to planning for its communications infrastructure. Cables are put down away from major fault lines and have lots of redundancies built in. Most of the cable landing points in Japan are well north of where the quake hit, he said.

Bloomberg is reporting Japanese telecom providers have been struggling to maintain service after the quake, and that wireless service is poor across the country.

EETimes is reporting that several semiconductor and other electronics manufacturing operations are in the affected area. Both Fujitsu and Toshiba have wafer fabs in Iwate prefecture. Reuters is reporting that six Sony plants have been closed; at least one of them is a semiconductor fab. Dow Jones Newswires is reporting that Sony has ceased all manufacturing operations in the country.

IBM has reported damage to some of its facilities, but specifics aren’t yet known. has issued some status updates saying there are service degradations on three separate instances as a result of the quake. Amazon Web services, which just opened a new data center in Japan, appears to be running normally.

Generally speaking the Internet itself seems to be holding up, judging by the various YouTube videos and other information that is getting out Japan. NHK’s English service is broadcasting live on the Web and I’ve had it running on my screen all morning without interruption.

I’ll update this post as I learn more.

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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google