Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

10,000 Chinese domain names vanish amid web chaos

Nearly 10,000 Chinese website operators have lost the use of their .com internet addresses due to telecom problems caused by last month's earthquake near Taiwan, state media reported.

The quake, which severed major international telecommunications lines, caused thousands of .com domain names held by Chinese users to vanish from world registries, the Beijing Times reported, citing domain registry sources.

Lingering disruptions to overseas Web connections also have prevented them from accessing the overseas registries to re-register the names.

"So far, a large number of domain names held by businesses have been snatched by overseas investors, causing businesses to suffer losses," the newspaper said. It provided no examples.

Domain names ending in .com or other suffixes provide easily recognisable names for website addresses, which are actually a series of underlying numbers.

Though underlying websites are unaffected, the paper said more than 9,000 domain-holders had lost use of their .com addresses, and the number was expected to grow while the internet disruptions last.

The undersea quake damaged cables that carry most of the region's telecom traffic, sparking widespread communications disruptions affecting Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere.

Knock-on problems occurred as far away as Australia.

Telecommunications firms have sent repair ships to the waters off southern Taiwan, where the 7.1 quake hit on December 26, to repair the damage but have said connections might not be fully restored for weeks.

Access in China to overseas websites was cut off for several days following the quake. Though largely restored, the connections remain slower than normal.