Well, I'm back, but Internet access is still painfully slow. The BBC website has a "low graphics" option that helps considerably, but many other sites are very slow (or not available at all). I know the BBC has a big advantage because it doesn't carry advertising, but many web pages could be designed better to load faster even with the ads - but they can't be bothered because most people have fast Internet access, or so they suppose.
Those chumps over at OFTA are suggesting that we need to be patient for another few weeks:
While telecommunications operators are now making arrangements to obtain as much capacity for data traffic as possible to the North America via Europe, Singapore, Australia and China, which will help to improve the data traffic including access to overseas web sites, the public are advised to minimise non-essential visits to overseas web sites, uploading or downloading large files to/from these web sites, and other non-essential activities which demand large bandwidth over international connections.
Overseas callers calling Hong Kong are advised to use mobile phones or fixed-line phones instead of calling cards. But for callers from Taiwan and Japan, calling card services for calls to Hong Kong are normal.
So we still have to pay the normal fee for Broadband access, but we are being asked to reduce "non-essential" usage. Well, since 99% of most home Internet access is "non-essential", that should solve the problem, shouldn't it? I just look forward to a rebate from PCCW (I'd settle for 50%). Isn't that what OFTA should be working on? Don't they review the contingency plan that ISPs have in place for when something like this happens?
The problem, of course, is that we have all got used to the Internet "just being there", and assume that geographical distance is no longer important (most Hong Kong blogs are hosted in the States or the UK, and normally no-one would even notice). Until now, of course.
It's a minor inconvenience not to be able to read a blog, but a big problem for companies that rely upon systems that are accessed over the Internet. I suppose that most large companies do have some arrangements in place, but smaller companies probably don't, and some will have learned an expensive lesson. Mind you, problems getting on to the Internet are a perfect excuse for delaying payments to suppliers (and even paying salaries) - and at the Year End as well, so maybe it's not all bad.