Patient care in CNMI unaffected by internet outage

3:48 pm on 16 July 2015

Communications throughout the CNMI continue to be severely affected as a result of its sole fibre optic cable being damaged.

A state of emergency has been declared after the cable to Guam was severed by a boulder last week, cutting all phone, internet, banking and other services to the outside world.

A limited service has since been restored by the cable's owner, Guam-based company IT&E, but residents in Saipan says service is still slow and patchy.

The director of public health and hospital emergency preparedness, Warren Villagomez, says the outage has not affected patient care.

But he says Saipan has the only hospital in CNMI that provides tertiary and intensive care, so it's critical to have continued communication with the two other islands in case emergency evacuations are needed.

"We were able to communicate via Sat phones to Rota and Tinian and as well as HF and VHF radio standing up as well, that was the most efficient way to go about that at this time.

IT&E says the Taiwanese boat bringing crew and supplies to fix the severed cable is expected to arrive on island in 8-10 days.

But the service provider says it still has no timetable when the network will finally be restored.

It says the repair of the fibre optic cable is expected to cost $US2 million, but its chief executive James Oehlerking says the expense will not be passed on to subscribers.

He also says subscribers won't be charged for services IT&E weren't able to provide during the network blackout.

Pagan Island

Pagan Island Photo: Supplied