From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
VIETNAM’S FIBER-OPTIC CABLE LOSS GLOBALLY UNPRECEDENTED: OFFICIAL
Tran Duc Lai, Deputy Minister of Posts and Telematics (MPT) also said
Tuesday that the loss of such cable is extremely dangerous, putting
the country at risk of socio-economic data isolation.
He was referring to the reported “theft” of 11 km from the TVH line
which transmits data from Vietnam to Thailand and Hong Kong, and 32 km
allegedly “stolen” from the ACPN cable, operated by a Singaporean firm
between the two countries.
However, many now blame the “thefts” on a Ba Ria Vung Tau Provincial
administration decision decreed last year that allows soldiers and
fishermen to salvage unused undersea cables laid before 1975 to sell
Amidst the rush of fishermen hauling up cables for profit, many
reportedly mistook cables in use for unused ones. Deputy Minister Lai
said the ministry had not even been informed of this decision.
Last month, the province withdrew the permission and banned all forms
of cable salvaging.
Bui Quoc Viet, director of Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications
Group’s Information Center, said no other nation in the world allowed
its citizens to haul up unused cables for scrap because the income
from it was nothing compared to the risk of cutting off
Such scrap cables fetch a mere VND7,000-VND15,000 (less than a dollar)
for one km while one km of the TVH line cost $13,000 when it was laid
1-2 m beneath the seabed in 1994.
The first incident, TVH, was discovered in March this year. All
transmission has been transferred to a second undersea cable, the
If this line is also stolen or damaged, Vietnam will be largely cut
off from the outside world, experts have warned.
Together, TVH and SMW3 account for 80 percent of all data transmission
to and from Vietnam.
Cost to repair the TVH line has been estimated at around US$2.6
million. Repairs on the line have yet to take place.
In related news, firms from 10 countries including Vietnam, the US,
India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, are
teaming up to lay a 20,000km, $500 million AAG cable to connect
Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, with the US.
MPT has instructed Vietnamese companies involved to speed up work and
finish the project before its October 2008 deadline.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung instructed authorities
concerned to step up efforts to prevent any more cable losses.
He said the missing cable was extremely serious and directly affected
socio-economic development, national security, and Vietnam’s
He ordered the Ministry of Defense to intensify patrolling and monitor
ships, the Ministry of Public Security to investigate the thefts, and
MPT to repair the cable as soon as possible.
Vietnamese fishermen ‘salvage’ Internet lines
Reuters / 06/07/2007
HANOI – Fishermen who were allowed to take unused war-era undersea
copper cables have gone too far, “salvaging” fibre-optic lines
providing some of Vietnam’s Internet and other international
A Ministry of Posts and Telematics report seen on Thursday urged
authorities in central and southern regions to prevent the theft of
cable, whose loss underdeveloped Vietnam can ill afford.
“The general assessment is that most fishermen, and in some cases even
the local authorities, had a very simple understanding of the
consequences of the theft of under-sea fibre optic cable,” the report
on a May 31 to June 5 investigation said.
State-run newspapers said an 11-km (7-mile) section of stolen TVH
fibre-optic cable would be replaced at a cost of $5.8 million. It was
part of the line that transmits data from Vietnam to Thailand and Hong
In all, about 43 km (27 miles) of fibre-optic cable is missing,
including about 32 km (20 miles) stolen from a cable operated by a
“Now just one undersea cable connects Vietnam with the outside world,”
Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said.
The theft began after the government in the southern province of Ba
Ria-Vung Tau last year allowed fishermen and soldiers to salvage
undersea copper cable laid before 1975 to sell as scrap.
The Vietnam war in which the United States backed a South Vietnam
government, ended in April 1975 when communist North Vietnam troops
captured Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.
The permission to salvage the cable has been withdrawn, the ministry
has asked the Coast Guard to increase patrols and inspections and
officials have started a public relations campaign to educate
fishermen about the importance of the cables.
Vietnam unplugged – country faces internet shutdown after cables stolen
Vietnam faces near total disconnection from the Internet because
thieves are stealing the country’s international telecoms cables, says
a telecoms executive.
After a gang carted off fiber optic lines earlier this month, the
country now relies on a single link to Hong Kong for 90 percent of its
international internet and telephone traffic, warned Nguyen Huu Khanh.
stolen_internet_cables_vietnam – Source: Tuoi Tre Nguyen is the
director of the government-controlled Vietnam Telecom International
(VTI) company, which operates the international links.
Almost 100 kilometers of cable have been stolen, Nguyen told local
publication Tuoi Tre. A summary of Tuoi Tre’s coverage was reported by
the state-owned VietNamNet Online Newspaper. Nguyen estimated losses
at more than $4 million. Other reports say the cables will take three
months to fix.
Police have recovered parts of the stolen cable, but it is severely
damaged because the thieves sliced it into sections for easier
Fishing boats used to hook cables
The thieves used fishing boats to pull up cables which connect Vietnam
to Thailand, where they merge with global telecoms networks. The
undersea lines usually lie unprotected on top of the seabed in
offshore areas, and can easily be dragged to the surface if they can
In many regions, large signposts (see photos) indicate where an
international undersea cable comes ashore. Although these are intended
to prevent accidental damage to the cable, they also act as a
convenient guide for thieves. The stolen cables can be sold for tens
of thousands of dollars as scrap, according to Vietnamese press
One report claims that workers legally salvaging old unused cables to
recycle the copper in them may also have dredged up new cables by
mistake in some cases.
Several cable gangs at work, police say
The Thailand cable is not the first to go missing. Since the beginning
of the year, 500 tons of fiber optic cable may have been stolen in
five separate incidents, according to police sources cited by Tuoi
In one such incident, the crew of a Singaporean cable repair ship sent
to investigate a connection problem arrived to find a Vietnamese boat
making off with a large section of the cable.
Vietnam’s sole remaining high-capacity international cable is part of
a network that was severely damaged by an earthquake last year, taking
months to repair. Even if the thieves do not turn their attention to
that cable, a further quake will effectively cut most Vietnamese off
from the global internet, Nguyen warned.
While Vietnam’s international internet links have long suffered from a
lack of bandwidth, local bloggers have been complaining of
particularly poor connections in recent weeks, possibly as a result of
the missing cables.
Cable Theft Costs Vietnam $6M
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, June 8, 2007 — It will take at least a
month to fix undersea fiber optic cable damaged by local fishermen
seeking to sell it as scrap, Vietnam officials said this week, and
could cost at least $5.8 million.
“We will need a long time to fix the cable, called TVH,” Deputy
Minister of Posts and Telematics (MPT) Tran Duc Lai said during a
press conference on Tuesday and reported by Vietnam News (VNS), the
state-run news service, on its Web site.
TVH was laid in 1995, connecting Vietnam with Hong Kong and Thailand.
Another undersea cable, SMW3, which has a total capacity of 10 Gb/s,
links China, Hong Kong and Singapore, VNS said. Vietnam has eight
underwater cable systems, six of which are under foreign ownership.
“This is the first time that fishermen cut an undersea cable to sell
as scrap,” Lai told VNS. “It is a serious threat to national security,
socioeconomic development and Vietnam’s international prestige.”
Authorities have discovered five illegal cases of underwater cable
theft since January. Most recently, two fishing vessels carrying about
80 tons of cable, which had been stolen from underwater networks in
the East Sea, were seized in Kien Giang Province. The vessel’s owner
said he was transporting the cable to sell on the mainland, VNS said.
Before, authorities in the southern provinces of Kien Giang, Soc
Trang, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Ba Ria-Vung Tau had recovered many tons of
underwater telecommunications cables from fishing vessels, the news
The Thanh Nien Daily newspaper reported on its Web site Thursday that
an ad hoc committee, formed by MPT earlier this month to analyze five
loads of cables seized from fishermen, said as much as 61 miles of the
TVH fiber-optic cable that operates at 560 Mb/s could need to be
replaced, at a cost of at least $5.84 million.
In late April, all communication through the TVH cable was stopped and
moved to the SMW3. Now just that one cable connects Vietnam with the
outside world, sending more than 80 percent of the country’s
information. If this line too is stolen, the country will be mostly
cut off, experts told the newspaper.
Besides the theft of the Vietnam cable, Thanh Nien Daily said, 32 km
(almost 20 miles) have also been found missing from the ACPN cable,
which is also in Vietnam waters and is operated by a Singapore firm.
The loss of communication signals over the cable was discovered in
March, officials told the newspaper. An international repair vessel,
the Asean Explorer, came to investigate, and left after discovering
the theft. The vessel will now start its repair work next week and is
likely to take 30 days, the newspaper reported yesterday.
According to the reports, the Ba Ria Vung Tau government last year
passed a law permitting soldiers and fishermen to salvage unused
undersea cables laid before 1975 to sell as scrap. Deputy Minister Lai
told the newspaper that the ministry had not even been informed of
this decision until much later. Amidst the scramble by fishermen to
haul up the cables, many reportedly mistook cables in use for unused
ones. Last month the province withdrew the permission and banned all
forms of cable salvaging.
Lai told the newspaper that no country in the world had ever suffered
such a massive loss of fiber optic cables. Authorities in Bac Lieu,
Soc Trang, Kien Giang and Ba Ria Vung Tau provinces, all in the south,
have seized nearly 1500 tons of cable illegally salvaged by fishermen.
Bui Quoc Viet, director of the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications
Group’s Postal Information Center, told the newspaper that no other
nation in the world allowed people to haul up unused cables for scrap
because the income from it was minuscule compared to the risk of
cutting off communications. One kilogram of cable fetches less than a
dollar, while it had cost $13,000 to lay 1 km of the TVH line 1-2
meters beneath the seabed in 1994, the newspaper said.
“To prevent a repeat of the situation, we have to take urgent measures
like increasing fishermen’s awareness of the importance of underwater
cables, increasing patrols in areas that have undersea cables and
stringent punishment for those violating the law,” Lai told the
VNS said last week that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was requiring
authorities to crack down on the cable thieves, telling the Ministry
of National Defense to boost observation and control of vessels in
Vietnamese waters where telecommunications cables were located.
The telematics ministry discussed Tuesday enhancing sea patrols to
prevent such thefts in the future with the Ministry of Defense and
penalties for those involved in the thefts with the Supreme
Prosecutor’s Office. Earlier another deputy telematics minister, Le
Nam Thang, warned that cable thefts came under the category of
destroying national communications and can result in the death
sentence, the news service said.