IT&E outage severs service between Guam, CNMI - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

IT&E outage severs service between Guam, CNMI

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If you've been unable to send text messages, or noticed your phone has completely lost service, you may be affected by what seems to be a cut to IT&E's $14 million main fiber cable that connects both Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.     

Early Tuesday morning IT&E's parent company, Pacific Telecom, Inc., realized it was experiencing communication issues in the CNMI. PTI chief executive officer Jim Oehlerking told KUAM News, "We've just determined this last night that this cut happened, a little bit after midnight and pretty much have been mobilized ever since then trying to isolate the problems and identify what actions we can take." for Guam customers, 2G GSM and CDMA phones no longer have service, while 4G LTE and HSPA networks no longer have texting or prepaid services, but do have voice and data.

The CNMI, however, has been affected the most. "In Saipan there is no connectivity off the island currently at all. Again, that's why our primary focus at this point in time is trying to get some level of connectivity off for emergency services, medical, banking, and some of those activities," Oehlerking continued. "You can have on-island cellular service, but any off-island communication - Internet, cellular service, landline service, dedicated data lines for business - are all impacted."

The outage affects all carriers in the CNMI, not just IT&E. According to a press release issued by DOCOMO Pacific, their CNMI customers are also without service as a result of the damage to IT&E's undersea cable. DOCOMO Pacific mobile and Internet services, including voice, SMS and mobile data on Saipan, Rota and Tinian are currently unavailable - but television services are still operational. DOCOMO Pacific says it is working closely with IT&E to offer assistance to resolve the issue.

And while crews have yet to identify what caused the cut, the suspicion is that it's related to violent weather conditions during Typhoon Chan-Hom. "We've dispatched a team via a chartered helicopter to Rota, and we also have a team that came out from Saipan to Tinian," assured Oehlerking. "We're going to look at what we can provide in the medium term with microwave solutions to give as much capacity as possible between Guam and CNMI, and then we're going to look at the longer term fix with the undersea cable boat repair process."

IT&E has provided emergency phones to first responders to ensure they have the communication abilities needed to address the outage. While partial restoration is expected within 24 hours, a timeline has yet to be determined for full repair of the cable. For the time being, IT&E customers can rest assured they will not be charged for any services they don't receive.

Oehlerking promised, "We've committed whatever's required on our part from expenditures, resources, to move this along absolutely as fast as possible."

This isn't the first time IT&E's undersea fiber cable has been cut - it was also damaged in 2008.

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