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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 9:19 a.m., Thursday, December 28, 2006

Council: Asia's quake exposes communications hazard

Advertiser Staff

Wednesday's earthquake and aftershocks jolted Asia for hours, but the telecommunication disruptions may reverberate for weeks, the Pacific Telecommunications Council 2007 said in a news release yesterday.

When transpacific fiber optic cables were damaged, internet and phone call volume plummeted by half and web browsing slowed to a crawl.

The disaster highlights the vulnerability of international telecommunications in a global economy that has grown dependent on real-time communications. It also raises the stakes for $500 million in planned investments in new transpacific undersea cables.

"Natural disasters can expose weaknesses in global communications," said Ken Zita, who served as a telecommunications advisor to the U.S. Government following the Asian tsunami.

Zita, conference chairman of PTC'07: Beyond Telecom, will host telecommunications executives from over 60 countries at PTC'07 next month in Honolulu where emergency communications and disaster management will be highlighted.

"Despite the latest network management technologies, traffic concentration remain susceptible to strong natural hazards," he said, noting session on rapid deployment of communications tools in times of disasters and the establishment of emergency tactical plans for critical communications facilities.

According to David Lassner, President and Chairman of the Board of Governors for PTC and CIO at the University of Hawai'i, underscores the importance of emergency planning.

"Global telecommunications cannot be underestimated," Lassner said. "Everything from billions of dollars in international trade to personal communication with family is silently carried by our industry. When we go dead, the world goes dead."

PTC'07 will be held in Honolulu Jan. 14 through Jan. 17. Click www.ptc07.org for online registration.