It's been two weeks since Typhoon Soudelor wreaked havoc on our sister island of Saipan. While officials are on the ground working to restore power and water services, local telecom companies are working hard to improve communications and aid in relief efforts.

"IT&E doesn't just do business in Saipan, we have half of our employees living in Saipan, we currently have thirty of our employees and their families out of their homes, so we're very aware of the hardships that the people of Saipan are going through," stated Pacific Telecom, Inc. chief executive officer Jim Oehlerking. He added that IT&E has sent several containers with goods, not only to help its employees, but the community. "Some of it was equipment for restoration, some of it was just pure support equipment, support items, blankets, cooking devices, tarps, we sent over fifteen tents for our employees, and whatever we haven't used for our employees we've donated to the relief efforts there."

"We've also set up charging stations to help people charge their phones, we're looking at setting up WiFi hotspots to help their ability to communicate," he shared. The charging stations are located outside of IT&E's sales offices. Oehlerking added, "We've also initiated a matching text donation program with our subscribers here on Guam."

All you have to do is text the number 1 or 5 to 4357 or help to make a $1 or $5 donation, and IT&E will match every dollar.

As for cellular services, IT&E crews have been working around the clock. "We're also very actively working on network restoration up in Saipan. We've got a majority of the cellular network back up and operational, and actually a lot of the landline and internet network is operational but there's no power for people to use it. For the cellular network, we're about 80% with restoration right now. And I think over today and possibly tomorrow we should be back up at 100% on the cellular side; and again, it was easier to get that up and operational so that's why we're looking to expand that capability," he said.

Although there has been some damage to landlines and antennas, Oehlerking says one of the biggest issues has been the lack of power, but that the telecom is working to find creative ways to increase data capacity and provide communication services.