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Telecom networks lose signal in regions
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Weeks of bad weather and the resulting power shortages have disrupted mobile and fixed-line networks, dealing a heavy blow to the country's major telecom operators, officials said yesterday.

The Ministry of Information Industry (MII) said in a statement the severe snow and ice that have hit China's south, central and east regions since Jan 12 have also damaged 9,678 km of fixed-line networks and paralyzed close to 16,000 base stations.

The disruptions have affected more than 19.2 million phone users nationwide, officials said.

In addition, the losses incurred by Chinese telecom operators, including China Mobile and China Telecom, as a result of the disruptions, have now reached 150 million yuan ($20.9 million).

Telephone networks in the Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi regions have been worst hit, where the power grid and transport networks have buckled under the strain caused by the cold.

Officials said that as of Wednesday, 60 percent of damaged networks had been restored.

But the power shortages and traffic standstills have hampered repair work, they said.

The ministry did not give a date for when it expected the networks to resume full operations.

Meanwhile, governments and companies are increasing the use of communication networks to deal with the disruptions.

In Guangdong province, where 800,000 people were stranded by the bad weather, China Mobile has offered 10-yuan telephone vouchers to more than 340,000 users to help them keep in touch with family members, officials said.

The Ministry of Communications has also launched a website, which provides up-to-the-minute traffic information to keep all those affected by the weather abreast of the latest news and developments.

Similarly, search engine Google released a special map service earlier this week to provide weather and traffic information services.

(China Daily February 1, 2008)


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