The blackout yesterday morning that left virtually the entire country without telephone access was an eye-opener for the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC). The company's CEO admitted the failure was one of the biggest he has ever seen.
BTC held a press conference on Monday to address the blackout, during which its fixed-line, mobile and broadband services were interrupted for several hours.
"I could say from my 25-plus years in this industry, an outage of this magnitude is as significant as I've ever experienced and certainly it is questioning a lot in terms of our network and what we need to do actually to continue to fix a number of ongoing issues," Geoff Houston said. "We do recognize that we are going to have a little bit of a challenge to recover a lot of faith from our customers and their confidence in us, but I can say that we are actively committed to continuing on this journey to modernize and fix up BTC, and in the end bring a significantly better experience to our customers."
According to BTC, 300,000 prepaid mobile customers, 40,000 post-paid mobile lines and 100,000 landlines were impacted by the blackout. The crisis occurred because of a commercial power failure at the Poinciana Drive location at 8:10 a.m., which is the heart of its network facilities. During such an instance, the plant's generator and battery should have kicked in, but unexpectedly failed.
Houston mentioned that an investigation will take place to determine what specifically caused the outage. He was unable to give an assessment of the financial impact. BTC is reviewing compensation options that could be offered to customers that were affected, he added, but he didn't elaborate on what might be provided.
The inability to access BTC's services was costly to many businesses, most notably those that communicate with their consumers via telephone. Houston acknowledged that the blackout hurt the business community as much as the average Bahamian, and noted that every effort is being made to avoid another occurrence.
"This is not a good day for BTC. This is another one of those experiences where I think that we have got a lot to learn," he said. "We are extremely apologetic for the impact that this has had on our business customers... and that we are going to learn very quickly from this exercise and we are going to learn very quickly from whatever the investigation [reveals], and we are going to do whatever we can to make sure that it never happens again."
Up to press time, Houston said that all of the wired lined services had been restored and normality is being returned to mobile services, with a team of engineers actively working to stabilize all of the services.
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