China Telecom suffers internet outage

15 May 2019 | Laurence Doe

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China Telecom’s backbone has experienced a “significant, globally distributed outage”, according to network monitoring company ThousandEyes.

The organisation, dubbed ‘the X-ray of the Internet’, reported that China Telecom’s outage may have impacted more than 100 services in and outside China, including well-known applications, sites and services such as Workday, Slack, Salesforce, Apple and Microsoft

Over a period of nearly eight hours, starting at 12:30pm and ending at 8:00pm Pacific Time, China Telecom experienced sporadic packet loss across its network, stopping users from accessing its services and applications.

Angelique Medina, director of product marketing at ThousandEyes, stated: “Coming as it did at a moment of heightened tensions with the United States over trade policies, it may be tempting to jump to speculation about potential geopolitical motivations.

“However, doing so misses some important foundational realities about China and the Internet that many folks aren’t aware of.

“This outage is a great opportunity to dig into the state of Chinese internet connectivity.”

Figure 1: Cloud-based services impacted by China Telecom outage

Figure 1: Cloud-based services impacted by China Telecom outage.

ThousandEyes’ global vantage points detected sporadic packet loss over many hours, but found that the primary impact was on network infrastructure in mainland China, but also China Telecom’s network in Singapore and multiple points in the US, including Los Angeles.

Though not exclusively impacting western sites and services, many major US brands, such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Slack, Workday, SAP, and others were impacted over the course of the outage window.

Figure 2: Geographic scope of China Telecom outage varied over the outage period

Figure 2: Geographic scope of China Telecom outage varied over the outage period.

Medina said that the outage served as a “learning opportunity”.

She added: “When bad things go down in one part of the Internet, particularly in such a consequential country like China, the ripple effect is felt across the rest of the Internet.

“In this case, over a hundred business services were affected, and no doubt there were productivity and revenue losses as a result.

“Businesses today rely on the Internet to a degree that is pretty stunning when you consider how unpredictable it is.”

The chairman and CEO of China Telecom, Yang Jie, recently became the chairman of China Mobile.

Last month, Angelique Medina, director of product marketing,ThousandEyes presented a webinar entitled Ready, Set, SD-WAN: Winning the Readiness and Operations Game, discussing winning strategies for SD-WAN and hybrid WAN deployments