Following an earthquake last week that damaged submarine communications cables off the coast of Taiwan, Chunghwa Telecom, the largest telecom operator in Taiwan, confirmed plans to spend nearly U.S. $4 billion over the next five years to convert its existing copper fixed line network to fiber-optic technology and to update its wireless network. Chunghwa, which recently joined a consortium with Verizon Communications and with four Asian carriers that will build a $500 million fiber optic cable system linking the U.S. and China, had put financial plans for upgrades to its domestic network in place before the quake that disrupted telecom services throughout Taiwan and other Asian markets. (A Chunghwa spokesman said Tuesday that ships have arrived in the area to begin repairs to submarine data cables damaged in the quake.) Approximately $1.88 billion of the funds to be invested in the upgrade will be earmarked for the replacement of copper lines with fiber-optic infrastructure. An additional $2.09 billion will be spent on wireless network improvements. As of the end of 2006, Chunghwa was already serving nearly 150,000 subscribers with fiber-optic lines. Declaring that a goal of the project is to “spur the usage of value-added services,” Chunghwa hopes to expand its fiber-optic customer base to 500,000 by the end of 2007 and to offer fiber-optic broadband services to 2.5 million users by 2011.