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Experience of infrastructure damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and countermeasures against future disasters

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The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, which was the fourth strongest earthquake ever recorded in the world's history, severely damaged telecommunication facilities in unprecedented ways. The large-scale earthquake and tsunami affected many exchange office buildings and facilities. Further damage to services was caused due to the depletion of batteries associated with the prolonged disruption of the commercial power supply. The tremendous disaster caused service disruption to the communications infrastructure; in the case of NTT's facilities, approximately 1.5 million circuits for fixed lines and 4900 mobile base stations stopped working due to direct damage by the earthquake and/or tsunami or subsequent blackouts. However, more than 90 percent of the affected exchange offices and mobile base station equipment was restored by the end of March through an all-out effort by over 11,000 people. Even by the end of April, in areas where customers currently reside, service restoration has mostly been completed except for some areas experiencing construction difficulties, including damaged roads which made it difficult for workers to approach the site. In parallel with the restoration effort, a disaster emergency message service for voice, mobile, and the Internet was quickly provided in order to permit safety confirmation. The NTT Group installed temporary public telephones and Internet access environments, and also lent mobile phones, satellite mobile phones, and tablets free of charge to the affected people and government agencies. Since communication services are vital in modern society, we are making every effort to implement better countermeasures with future disasters in mind.

Published in:

Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:52 ,  Issue: 3 )

Date of Publication:

March 2014

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