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China quake hits telecom networks hard

Telecoms facilities in China have not been exempt from the damage inflicted by the recent earthquake. Among the victims is Western China's economic powerhouse, Chengdu.

This week's horrific and deadly earthquake in South-West China has damaged power supplies to local telecommunications facilities, in turn affecting cell phone services, network operators have reported. The quake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, jolted Wenchuan County of Sichuan Province at 2:28 p.m. on Monday. Tremors were felt in a large part of China.

Telecom networks in the cities of Chengdu, Chongqing and Zhengzhou were paralysed after the quake. People complained they were unable to complete calls on either fixed lines or cell phones. According to China Mobile's branch in Sichuan, about 2,300 local base stations stopped operating due to power shutdowns and transmission failures caused by the quake and three switching stations were congested.

China Mobile has, however, managed to start repairing affected facilities. Staff at China Mobile and China Unicom told the Xinhua news agency that cell phone service in the South-Western Sichuan and North-Western Shaanxi provinces were affected by the earthquake. Besides power disruptions, a surge in call volume following the quake could have also slowed the cell phone network, according to the two above-mentioned operators. China Mobile Call reports that call volume was ten times the normal level while the percentage of connections fell by half.

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