TelEm says Internet service now restored

POND ISLAND–TelEm Group said its technicians and engineers successfully restored internet service to its subscribers in St. Maarten at approximately 5:30pm Thursday, after conducting repairs to a fibre connection between the French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten.

Thursday’s restoration comes after several failed attempts to fully restore the service following a major outage Sunday, TelEm said.

Technicians and engineers working around the clock successfully cleaned up a faulty link that was causing the company’s internet service to operate sporadically and sometimes not at all, since the outage Sunday. “The local fibre connection came up several times, but deteriorated as soon as any load was put on it,” said Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa.

He said steps taken to clean up the fibre connection proved unsuccessful therefore a decision was taken to switch off the connection altogether Thursday, so that the team of engineers and technicians could better troubleshoot and obtain more accurate measurements to determine precisely where the problem to the fibre connection might be.

“I am happy to say that at approximately 5:30pm the team working on the restoration of the internet service reported that the service was restored and they were receiving zero errors, indicating that the connection was stable and customers could once again utilise their internet service with less interruption,” the CTO said.

Louisa said the team will continue to monitor the situation, but for now he is very hopeful that the connection will remain stable. He thanked the team working on the connection problem since Monday, recognising that they had not left their posts since the problem arose and literally worked around the clock to restore service to subscribers.

Louisa said with the connection to the new undersea cable some IP addresses may not be recognised when some customers are surfing online. “With the fibre connection stabilized we will be able to fine tune and change configurations to fully restore the service to what it was before the outage Sunday.”

News of the internet service restoration came within an hour of a meeting with Prime Minister William Marlin Thursday, during which TelEm Group Supervisory Board of Directors Vice Chairman Paul Marshall and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Brian Mingo briefed Marlin on Sunday’s outage and the steps the company was taking to repair the damaged SMPR-1 cable and also maintain services to customers using alternative cable routing systems.

Mingo outlined the steps TelEm Group has taken to provide continuity of service to the public with the little bandwidth available. However, this was not enough to provide for the company’s primary internet feed of 6Gb. “We set up a hotline to do an intake of problems being experienced by businesses with the intention of following up and providing solutions for them. Our Help Desk has also been briefed for the flood of calls they have been receiving since Sunday,” Mingo said.

As for the damaged SMPR-1 cable, Mingo said the affected part of the cable lies 2.5 kilometres from Puerto Rico with all indication that nearby reefs and rough seas caused the damage. “The seas are still too rough and dangerous for a contracted diver to inspect the cable and obtain video and photos so that we can see for ourselves just how bad the damage is and now we have to mobilize smaller ships and equipment that can navigate shallower waters and reefs to do the repairs,” Mingo noted.

He said taking the Christmas holidays into consideration and also depending on where the repair vessels are currently located it could take up to eight weeks for the repairs to the SMPR-1 cable to be completed.

According to TelEm, Marlin was thankful for the update and hoped the effects on business and the public would cause as little impact as possible. Marlin enquired about provisions being made by the company for banks, main business operations and Princess Juliana International Airport SXM, in particular, especially after hearing of the chaos that ensued on Sunday shortly after the damaged SMPR-1 cable took effect.

TelEm apologised to residential and business customers for the interruption in internet service since Sunday and the inconvenience caused by the cable damage.

Source: The Daily Herald