Taiwan earthquake knocks nearly 200 base stations offline


The 7.2-magnitude quake has seen communications disrupted for all three of the country’s mobile operators

This morning, Taiwan was hit by its largest earthquake in 25 years, collapsing buildings and causing landslides around the epicentre near Hualien city.

So far, seven people are confirmed to have been killed, while over 700 have been injured.

The magnitude 7.2 quake saw communications infrastructure across the region disrupted, primarily due to power lines to base stations being damaged or severed.

All three of Taiwan’s mobile operators – Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, and FarEasTone – were impacted, reporting 125, 33, and 14 affected base stations, respectively.

Work to repair the damage is already underway, with the Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) reporting that they expect normal service to be resumed later today.

“Overall, the affected areas are mainly in Yilan and Hualien, with mobile network-related services primarily affected,” said Wong Po-tsung, Chairperson of the NCC. “The NCC has requested that telecom companies make every effort to repair the damage to enable communication for the public, and the companies estimate that repairs can be completed today.”

Situated on the Pacific’s tectonic ‘Ring of Fire’, Taiwan is no stranger to earthquakes and, as such, the country’s telcos are well prepared to manage disasters of this nature. In fact, crisis response and creating resiliency in the country’s communications infrastructure has been a core focus for the telcos – and, indeed, the government – in recent years, particularly as tensions with neighbouring China rise and critical network infrastructure becomes a potential military target.

As such, Taiwan’s Ministry of Digital Affairs is currently in the process of developing an emergency satellite platform using low Earth orbit and medium Earth orbit satellites to provide connectivity if terrestrial infrastructure is damaged or disrupted.

By partnering with satellite players such as OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper, the government hopes to have established 700 hotspots, 70 backhaul stations, and three overseas hotspots by the end of 2024.

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