Mobile operators agree to cooperate in crisis cases | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–Bureau Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten (BTP) met with management of the TelEm Group of Companies and United Telecommunications Services (UTS) on June 20 to coordinate telecom recovery efforts in the event St. Maarten is hit by a hurricane or any other natural disaster.

In-depth discussions took place during the meeting on preparatory work on the telecom infrastructure, network resilience and the availability of communication services in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. While it is clear that there are often many challenges to providing stable telecom services in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, all stakeholders involved believe that the chance of service continuity is greater by working together.
To achieve such, BTP believes “Internal Roaming” is one of the most important things to enable in the aftermath of a storm, to guarantee availability of communication services to all. When internal roaming is activated, it means that when the network of one mobile operator is down, its customers will still be able to make use of mobile services by connecting to the network of another mobile provider.

In St. Maarten’s case, in the event the TelCell mobile network is compromised, its mobile customers would still able to connect via the Chippie network, and in the event the Chippie network is compromised, its mobile customers would be still to connect via the TelCell network.

“In the unfortunate event that St. Maarten again gets hit by a hurricane and it has been determined by BTP that island-wide mobile coverage is no longer guaranteed to the residents of St. Maarten due to damage on the telecom networks, BTP will advise the prime minister via the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) structure to effectuate a ministerial decree that allows for internal roaming.

“The internal roaming will then remain in effect as long as the country is in a state of emergency. Confirmed article 8 of ‘rampenbestijding’ and Articles 40 through 42 of the ‘Landsveroderning Telecommunicatie,’” stated BTP on Friday.

BTP Director Anthony Carty said, “Even though BTP has the legal tools to execute the sharing of networks when the country is in a state of emergency, collaboration between parties is preferred whereby there is no room for competing at that particular point.
“In an emergency situation all stakeholders in the industry need to come together and work together to provide services to the end users and make sure that they are connected and will be able to communicate with emergency responders and their loved ones on and off the island. We do not have any control over when the next major hurricane will hit us, but we do have control over the preparation process.

“That’s why BTP will continue to make efforts to get all stakeholders in the telecom industry to the table, and continue to work in the best interest of the island. We have a common goal and BTP will continue to develop and update policies, implement service standards and provide guidance to the industry and ministry to further improve telecommunication services on St. Maarten.”

Source: The Daily Herald