Pond Island – Damage to TelEm Group’s SMPR-1 submarine cable has been identified as the cause of a major island-wide outage of telecommunication services on Dutch Maarten Sunday.
Mobile data as well as fixed voice and data services were affected from approximately 4:00 am Sunday morning until basic services were gradually restored at approximately 6:00 pm Sunday evening.
The restoration of service was made possible with the assistance of an alternative submarine link provided by telecommunication company Digicel on French St. Martin.
“The stormy weather we have had in recent days seems to have caused damage to the SMPR-1 Cable and it will take some weeks to mobilize a vessel with the expertize on board to effect the necessary repairs,” said TelEm Group Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa.
He said measurements taken by technicians and engineers from TelEm Group and also from partners in Puerto Rico indicates the damaged cable is located in “mid-ocean.” Where it is only accessible with specialized equipment.
“We began restoring services, first with mobile data and then with basic services and leased lines to the banking sector during the evening hours Sunday and will continue restoring voice and data services in different areas with a 10 Gigabit capacity that we are leasing from Digicel and Telefonica in Puerto Rico,” continued the CTO.
He said restoration required quite some reconfiguration of company equipment and routers to accommodate the new transport route to Puerto Rico.
“Damage of this type could not have come at a worse time so close to Christmas so we are very thankful that we were able to find an alternative route through the Digicel/Telefonica link,” said Mr. Louisa, at the same time thanking Digicel management for their cooperation.
Mr. Louisa expects services will be up to 80% restored by mid-day Monday, and apologized to all TelEm Group voice and data subscribers, and especially to the business community who were affected by Sunday’s telecommunication blackout.