Severed cables leave WeChat users in limbo

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 2013, 6:48am

The mainland's leading smartphone messaging application, WeChat, owned by internet giant Tencent Holdings, went down for several hours yesterday morning after two optical cables were severed by a road construction team.

The application's first large-scale outage - reported by users in Beijing and other provinces including Guangdong, Zhejiang , Shandong, Heilongjiang as well as overseas users in Japan and Canada - started as early as 7.30am.

It was not until 2.43pm that Tencent said the broken cables were repaired and the service fully resumed.

WeChat, known as weixin on the mainland and similar to WhatsApp, has more than 300 million registered domestic users and recently surpassed 70 million users internationally.

Besides its free messaging functions, the application also provides group talk service and "Friends" feature where users share photos and blogs on their homepages. The disruption prompted wide complaints from the application's users.

Xinhua said about 860,000 microblog users complained about the WeChat outage on Sina Weibo, the mainland's leading microblogging service provider and a key rival of Wechat in the rapidly expanding social media sector, even though the two products provide different services.

Two of the mainland's three major telecommunication providers - China Telecom and China Unicom - had to explain to customers that the WeChat outage was not caused by problems to their service, China News Service reported.

A taxi company in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province complained that the outage disrupted their WeChat-based car rental service.

It had to compensate two customers a total of 126 yuan (HK$160) for breach of contract, the company said on its official Weibo account.

The company added that it would consider demanding compensation from Tencent.