BTC: 15% of network gets Irma impact

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) yesterday said that while 15 per cent of its network was impacted by Hurricane Irma, its infrastructure held up “fairly well” throughout the storm.

Andre Foster, BTC’s chief operating officer, said the communications provider was proceeding with a full assessment of Hurricane Irma’s impact. He said Ragged Island, which has just 37 customers, had been significantly affected.

“To-date our network has held up fairly well through the storm,” he said. “I think the Bahamas in general is very fortunate. We have had the most significant impact in Ragged Island, one of the smaller islands. We had a facility there which was damaged and needs significant repair.

“That is the only central office impacted as a result of the storm. We have had other incidents throughout the network; downed lines and things of that nature. The most significant challenge has been power. We tend to follow the power providers. As they restore power our services will be restored, and if there are any lingering issues our customers would typically give us a call.”

Mr Foster said BTC had maintained “pretty good” continuity with its mobile service throughout Irma. “We have spots where we lost a tower due to power outages, but there has been no significant service degradation throughout most of the Commonwealth,” he added.

“From a mobile perspective we are not seeing a significant level of customers out of service. There is no infrastructure from a mobile perspective that is completely down. Those will be restored as power comes back on.”

Mr Foster continued: “We saw maybe around 15 per cent of the network being affected from an overall perspective. What we are finding is that with fixed-line related issues we are able to respond pretty quickly.

“Andros is an area where there is a lot of land to cover, and customers are far and few in between. It’s a bit more challenging, but certainly in some of the more densely populated markets I think we are going to have a good turnaround on any service restoration.”

Mr Foster said BTC’s FlowtoGo mobile app was fully available to its subscribers throughout the storm. “Our TV services were fully available, and I’m sure in many instances that helped to aid many people with communication to understand what was happening,” he added.

Mr Foster said the company has created a ‘text to donate’ campaign, where every dollar donated via SMS to the Hurricane Irma relief effort, the company will match 100 per cent. “We are also working with the shelters, making sure we can provide, whether it is in the form of canned goods, water or clothing to assist those impacted by the storm,” he added.

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