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Bad weather impedes restoration of telecomm services

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In what has been a whirlwind effort to restore communication to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam following damages to IT&E's main undersea fiber cable after Typhoon Chan-Hom, restoration efforts continue but have been hampered by stormy weather conditions in the CNMI.

It's been over 48 hours since a telecommunication outage in both Guam and the CNMI has affected thousands of island residents. Pacific Telecom, Inc. chief executive officer Jim Oehlerking says his team has been working around the clock to fix the damaged undersea fiber cable connecting Guam and Saipan. "We've restored limited communication into Saipan via a microwave link from Tinian, he confirmed. "We're actively working on additional capacity either from a microwave or we're looking at a secondary solution that we're actually working on in conjunction with DOCOMO, GTA, and the CUC."

Government officials, first responders and the Federal Aviation Administration were first priorities. And while full communication services have been restored to Tinian, all services except CDMA are available in Rota, and efforts continue for Guam and Saipan. "There is limited calling access for the general public on and off of Saipan now, so we've been able to get some services back up data services still have not been provided due to the data - the network intensity required for that," Oehlerking continued.

Internet services in Saipan are also down, although SMS has been restored. While 4G services are now fully operational in Guam, 2G services are still impacted. IT&E has waived security deposit and activation fees for customers upgrading from 2G to 4G, so they can regain service as soon as possible. The CEO said, "We've got multiple call centers set up to address customer questions, all of our stores are running extended hours." IT&E is working on multiple solutions and hopes to restore more services within 24 to 48 hours.

While Oehlerking hoped initial restoration efforts would be completed by today, stormy weather conditions near Tinian and Rota have hampered efforts in the area. Meanwhile, full repair through an undersea cable repair boat will take at least another 12 days.

"And the final complete repair and solution again we're working on the details with TYCO, but again weather dependent. It may be a ten-day transit from Taiwan to here, but once they're here about a 48-hour schedule to actually repair the cable once they're here," he said.

Oehlerking says his teams continue to work around the clock, and that for more information customers can call IT&E's Customer Call Center at 922-4483. 

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