Three-month update: Fall out from Japan’s earthquake and tsumani

NTT Communications has disclosed the impact on its business of the recent earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan on March 11 2011.

Not surprisingly, the major events which hit Japan three months ago have had significant effects on telecoms in the region. Akira Arima, president and CEO of NTT Communications, revealed that customer enquiries about data centre provision have increased by between two to five times, as customers are realising the importance of holding their data in a secure environment. There are also significant concerns about power shortages, due to the continued closure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Arima explained that Japan faces other problems relating to power generation. Tokyo and the eastern part of Japan, which is facing significant power shortages, uses 50kHz. However, Kyoto and the western part of the country, which currently has a surplus of power, uses 60kHz. There is a shortage of the substations needed to move surplus capacity between the two frequencies to distribute power across the country.

As a result, during the summer months Japanese companies have been asked to cut down on their electricity usage, and the Japanese environment minister, Ryu Matsumoto, has asked for a 15% reduction in electricity consumption. Arima explained that there were some exceptions to this request, and that NTT’s data centres and its other business critical facilities had been exempted from reducing electricity usage.

However, NTT Communications' ordinary office buildings are facing the same power difficulties as other companies in Japan. These reductions have led businesses to introduce shorter working hours, or to stagger the working week by asking employees to work weekends and closing their offices for two days during the week.

Arima was confident that NTT Communications was prepared for the effects of the earthquake: “Prior to the earthquake, we had made efforts to ensure sufficient levels of redundancy and multiple back-up routes. But we are working to further enhance these multiple routes.”

He admitted that NTT docomo’s mobile services had been severely impacted by recent events, with as many as 4,900 base stations disrupted immediately after the earthquake. Although only 307 of these base stations were still disrupted by the end of March, the business is clearly considering options to secure communications following future earthquakes. “We are therefore looking into satellite technology as a possible back-up in the future,” said Arima.

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