China Mobile Offers Emergency Telecom Trucks to Taiwan

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The chairman of China Mobile on Friday offered 10 emergency mobile telecommunications trucks to areas of Taiwan devastated by Typhoon Morakot, which caused landslides and flooding that swept away entire towns.

The trucks were used in China last year as part of the strategy to get wireless service back up and running after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake stuck Sichuan. The deadly temblor knocked 4,457 mobile base stations out of commission, shutting down mobile phone service for people in the worst affected areas.

The company also used weather balloons to hoist mobile base stations into the air, since many buildings and towers had been flattened.

But politics will likely prove a hurdle to the trucks ever being put to use. China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949 and the two remain at odds despite warmer relations in recent years. Communications is one area Taiwan has not allowed any cross-investment with Chinese companies due to national security considerations.

Typhoon Morakot swept into Taiwan Aug. 8 and was the island's deadliest storm in 50 years. Over 600 people died or remain missing after the typhoon, which caused an estimated NT$110 billion (US$3.34 billion) in damage to homes, buildings, roads and bridges. The missing are believed to have been buried alive in landslides or swept away in flood waters.

The storm has also been blamed for knocking six undersea fiber-optic telecommunications cables off line, causing some problems with voice communications and Internet service in various parts of Asia.

Mobile phone communications remain down in the worst hit parts of Taiwan, areas China Mobile suggests the mobile communications trucks could be used to get service back up and running.

"We have ten self-contained mobile telecommunications trucks waiting to be sent to disaster areas in Taiwan," said Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, during a press conference in Taipei.

China Mobile is the world's largest mobile phone service provider, with nearly 498 million subscribers. The company also pledged NT$50 million to help typhoon victims.

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