TelEm Group CEO, Kendall Dupersoy, says the company is well on the way to restoring its telecommunication infrastructure to pre Hurricane status thanks to the continued hard work of technical staff and the addition of local contractors and telecommunication experts from Curacao.
According to Mr. Dupersoy, there are now more cell sites (15) in full operation with 10 cell sites providing partial operation.
“This is a vast improvement on the situation just three weeks ago when the last update was given by the technical team,” said Mr. Dupersoy.
Mr. Dupersoy is especially pleased that amongst the cell sites labelled “fully operational” are those covering important areas such as PJIAE and surrounding area, Porto Cupecoy, Cole Bay, The Harbour and the Smitcoms Building at Harbour View in Philipsburg.
“Residential areas such as Belvedere, Point Blanche, Guana Bay, St. John’s and Cay Hill are also being fully provided with service by their respective cell sites,” continued the CEO.
He said more challenging is restoration of full service to the company’s own Earth station, due to extensive damage of the building, and similarly to Maho where there has also been extensive damage to property.
Other areas with partial cell site connections include: Pelican, Simpson Bay and Simpson Bay Bridge, Bush Road, Dawn Beach, Frontstreet and Middle Region.
“We have all hands on deck, including the help of additional contractors and expert help from Curacao to get these additional cell sites full up and running as quickly as possible, despite some bottlenecks created by a shortage of materials to work with and damage to our telecommunication cabinets in the field,” continued Mr. Dupersoy.
He said progress slowed down in the past week when the technical team was forced to return to some cell sites they had repaired earlier to make those repairs more permanent. He noted however that a full schedule of work is planned for the coming week to get the restoration schedule back on track, including repairs to a broken fiber cable in Pelican and restoration work in Diamond Hill, Oyster Pond and Dawn Beach.
The TelEm Group boss is appealing to residential and business customers still awaiting reconnections to be patient in the knowledge that the company is doing all it can with the resources at its disposal to restore its services to pre-Hurricane Irma status in the shortest possible time.
Meantime, TelEm Group Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Mr. Eldert Louisa, says the company may soon be forced to make a decision on whether it will continue to operate a 2G mobile service due to extensive damage to that platform and the high cost of restoring a telecommunication platform that was scheduled to be phased out within short anyway.
“At this time the 2G platform is only 57% operational compared to the 3G platform (67%) and the LTE/4G platform (71%), however, the 2G platform is in need of some serious restoration work which might not be worth the effort and cost coming to the end of its useful life,” said Mr. Louisa.
He said TelEm Group is leaning towards utilizing 2G platform components to expand the recently launched LTE/4G platform for additional capacity while the possibility exists.
Both Mr. Louisa and the TelEm Group CEO, Mr. Dupersoy, say they will be keeping the Supervisory Board of Directors, The Shareholder and St. Maarten’s telecommunication regulator, the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post (St. Maarten) apprised of the latest developments and the extraordinary efforts that continue to be made by management and staff to restore the island’s telecommunication services to pre-hurricane standard.