Cyber addicts fail to log on to their daily fix

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 December, 2006, 12:00am


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Cyber fans in Hong Kong were unable to get their daily dose of fun yesterday. They were unable to check e-mails, send MSN messages, surf the internet, shop online, carry out research or play cyber games, because of the damage to undersea cables caused by the earthquake off Taiwan.

Thinking initially that the problem lay with their home systems, many trooped to internet cafes only to find the situation the same there.

Cyber cafe I-One, which is usually packed during holidays, saw business drop by 60 per cent at its Mong Kok branch. The branch, which has about 140 computers on two floors, was less than half full, with only one customer playing computer games on the non-smoking floor.

' When it's full, even the non-smoking floor is packed,' manager Chan Chi-keung said. 'Many customers came down today thinking there was something wrong with their systems at home. When they realised there was no [international] internet access here, many turned away.

'The fate of this cafe hinges on the [internet] connection. If that is down, we're finished,' he added, estimating that turnover was down by HK$6,000 yesterday.

Chan Cheuk-man, the only customer on the non-smoking floor, said he was very surprised at the extent of disruptions experienced in Hong Kong.

Mr Chan, a delivery worker from Sweden who is in the city for a holiday, said he had been surfing the internet for at least three to four hours a day in the past decade to check e-mails, work orders and to play computer games.

'I can't believe in Asia you lose all connection because of one [cable] line. My routine is very much affected. A similar problem happened in Europe about six years ago. Connection was slow, but at least there was a line.'

Another computer game fanatic, who spends an average of six hours a day playing online games at cyber cafes, sometimes overnight, said he was forced to play local games against the computer.

'I was playing here last night and at about 2am the connection was suddenly cut off. I waited for two hours and tried every 15 minutes. I came back today and tried again,' Wong Lo said.