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Australians have been warned to expect drastically slower internet speeds. The culprit? Two typhoons which ravaged Hong Kong last month have caused considerable damage to a number of submarine cables between Hong Kong and Sydney.

Typhoon Hato, followed by Typhoon Pakhar were the most powerful storms to hit Hong Kong in 5 years, causing thousands of evacuations and issuing a stage 10 hurricane signal. Continue below to discover exactly what what damage was caused and what this means for you!

What is a submarine cable?

A submarine cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. The first submarine communications cables were laid in the 1850’s, which carried telegraphy traffic.

The SEA-ME-WE3

The main cable breakage causing the biggest impact occurred approximately 54 kilometres off the coast of Hong Kong and is known as the ‘SEA-ME-WE3’ (South East Asia - Middle East - Western Europe). The longest telecoms cable in the world, the SEA-ME-WE3 spans an amazing 39,000km from Germany to Australia and Japan.

When will my Internet be back to normal?

Although submarine repair teams are currently working to repair the damage, Australian’s can’t expect Internet speeds to return back to normal until the 13th of October 2017. However, don’t lock this date in just yet, as wholesale operators have confirmed these dates ‘tend to change over time due to the nature of repairs’.

The future of Australia’s Internet

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the ageing cable has created difficulties, with many faults experienced in 2013 and 2015! Moreover, a segment of the SEA-ME-W3 takes a route through Indonesia, an area which is prone to serious earthquakes. In recent years, several companies have been vying to build a new cable, reducing the dependence on the SEA-ME-W3 infrastructure.

Big hitting companies such as Telstra and Google have unveiled plans to begin construction of ‘Indigo’ a cable to be built between Perth and Singapore. Estimated to cost over US$100 million, the consortium's claim Indigo will be better protected against damage and completed in 2018!

So there you have it, the complete breakdown of the damaging typhoons which hit Hong Kong earlier this month. Slow Internet speeds can be incredibly frustrating, however rest-assured relief is on it’s way!

 

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