TelEm promises full internet restoration soon

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~Giant steps made to stabilize new fiber cable connection~

PHILIPSBURG – TelEm Group has promised full internet restoration for Dutch St. Maarten shortly, appealing to residential and business clients to be patient.

The promise is that service will soon be back to where it was before the company’s main SMPR-1 undersea cable was damaged on the ocean floor two days ago.

TelEm technicians and engineers have been working round the clock since Sunday to stabilize a 10 Gigabit connection they are utilizing on an alternative undersea cable.

First attempts to use the new fiber cable Monday morning, December 19, proved successful, however the fiber deteriorated hours later, once again leading to poor internet connections island-wide.

According to TelEm Group Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa, a restoration team has been able to install specialized equipment to stabilize the temporary link, while additional clean-up operations of the fiber cable, are taking place at the Smitcoms Building in Harbour View.

“Without a clean fiber connection from the French side to the Dutch side, we will continue to have our internet quality go up and down,” said Louisa.

He acknowledged that TelEm Group customers have complained all day Tuesday, December 20, about extremely slow internet connections, while other customers have reported no connections at all. Even more customers complained about not being able to connect to their favourite websites for business and/or entertainment, with Netflix users being amongst many customers who said they were not able to watch their favourite shows.

“As of 8:00pm Tuesday, the connection from the French side to the Dutch side is stabilized and both residential and business customers should see an improvement in their connections,” said Louisa.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and look for other solutions to clean up the fiber connections further, and make more use of the fiber capacity we have at our disposal so that our customers can have their service restored to what it was before our own SMPR-1 cable was damaged,” continued Louisa.

He said TelEm Group is working a hot-line number to respond to specific customer requests. This will be in addition to the services already offered to customers by TelEm’s Help Desk, which was flooded with calls from irate customers Monday and Tuesday following the outage.

“We know there are, especially some businesses, with specific problems and specific questions and we would like to assist them as best we can, while we work towards full restoration of all of our services,” continued the CTO.

He said out of the 10 Gigabits of capacity made available to TelEm on the new fiber cable, only 2.5 could be initially used, and that was allotted to lease line customers, such as banks and major businesses, PJIAE, the Harbour and other government-owned entities.

“What was left we provided for data use on the mobile data network and also for basic internet use. This was far from enough based on the high demand for TelEm Group ADSL service, however, we had hoped to make use of the rest of the 10 Gigabit capacity once the French side to Dutch side fiber cable connection was made, however, that link turned out not to be as clean as we needed it to be, so adjustments had to be made for the better of the day, Tuesday,” explained Louisa.

“For now, and as of Tuesday evening, we want everyone to know that the link is up and customers should begin to experience a better quality of internet service, that we will continue to monitor and improve on the quality of that link and further, that we are doing all that we can to stabilize what is only a temporary solution until we have our own SMPR-1 undersea cable repaired,” stated the CTO.

Louisa again apologized to TelEm customers for the interruptions in their telecommunication services since Sunday.

“We are continuing to make full restoration of services a priority at this time. Thanks to the dedicated work of our staff and partners we have taken a giant step Tuesday to that goal,” Louisa concluded.