The loss (or lack) of Internet access has been felt keenly in previous disasters, but Keynote Systems says the Internet survived the earthquake and tsunami in Japan well. (Certainly, it's done better than Japan's nuclear power plants.) In a statement, the monitoring firm said it had examined the performance of the Internet in Japan late Friday afternoon, and found very few large-scale problems. However, some leading Japanese sites struggled to stay up and available. According to Dave Karow, Keynote's senior product manager for Internet testing and monitoring: “At a macro level, the Internet did what it’s supposed to do. It didn’t even blink.”
Access between Tokyo and San Francisco and between Tokyo and regional hubs such as Seoul, Singapore, and Taipei was unaffected, according to Keynote.
However, a number of popular Japanese-hosted sites experienced mostly short-lived slowdowns, says Karow. “Interestingly, these performance alarms were spread out throughout the day rather than clustering around the time of the earthquake,” he says. There were a small number of complete outages lasting more than seven hours.
Samuel K. Moore is the senior editor at IEEE Spectrum in charge of semiconductors coverage. An IEEE member, he has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Brown University and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.