Categorized | National News

Utilities Meltdown

The country’s operations were in a tailspin yesterday as the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) both experienced service meltdowns.

The meltdowns began shortly around 8:14 a.m. with an island-wide power outage.

BEC blamed the outage on a surge in its system.

“Crews were immediately dispatched to restore supplies and to investigate the cause of the surge. BEC began restoring supplies to its customers in less than half an hour after the initial fault. The last remaining customers had their supplies restored at noon on Monday,” the state-run corporation said in a press statement.

“At this time, this corporation is investigating the cause of Monday’s island-wide outage and has isolated the cause of the fault to a problem on its transmission network.”

Officials said power was restored in New Providence by noon.

The corporation assured that it has taken necessary steps to ensure that these occurrences are, if not eradicated, minimised with little inconvenience to consumers.

Just last year, BEC officials rented 12 MW devices to deal with the heavy load of summer and reduce the number of outages in New Providence.

“BEC realises and remains fully committed to its national responsibility to provide a safe and reliable source of electricity across The Bahamas,” the corporation said.

The domino effect spilled over to BTC, which experienced a much larger service disruption – one that occurred nationwide.
Officials said the breakdown was due to a commercial power failure at BTC’s Poinciana Drive location, which houses the majority of the company’s telecommunications network facilities.

In addition, officials said there is a redundancy protocol, which should have automatically caused the plant’s generator and batteries to kick in. And while the back up batteries kicked in immediately, it failed after a short time for reasons that

BTC is still investigating.

BTC says the failure of the south central exchange created a full disruption in BTC’s mobile and internet services nationwide.

Further, most land subscribers were unable to make calls.

During a news conference late yesterday afternoon, BTC Chief Executive Officer Geoff Houston said that as soon as the communications problem occurred, engineers began working to get the network back up and running.

He said yesterday’s events were “quite unique.”

“This disconnection is quite significant and causing a lot of challenges for us,” Mr. Houston admitted.

The CEO, who came on board to BTC after the company was sold to Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) last year, said the telecommunications breakdown was the largest he has seen in his 25-year career.

“This is not a good day for BTC. This is another one of those experiences where it proves that we have a lot to learn. We are extremely apologetic to all of our customers and we are going to learn from this exercise and we are going to learn very quickly from whatever the investigation throws up and we are going to do whatever we can to ensure that this never happens again,” Mr. Houston said.

“If that means we have to invest any more in our investments, change the design, look at our processes, our people then we are going to look at absolutely everything to avoid this from happening again.”

While BTC has been carrying out a multi-million dollar cell phone service upgrade, officials stressed that yesterday’s communications collapse had nothing to do with that.

Meantime, Mr. Houston said the company is looking at the best way to compensate customers.

“We are looking at all options to ensure that we give back to our customers. We do recognise the pain that our customers are going through but unfortunately this one came out of left field. We are now going to take stock and decide on how to move forward with our customers in terms of compensation,” he said.

Officials said all of the company’s networks should be up in every island by today.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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