Sat, Jan 21, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Marshalls back online after blackout

AFP, MAJURO, Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands has restored Internet services after the Pacific nation endured a three-week blackout while its sole submarine fiber-optic cable was repaired.

The cable service was cut late last month after a “power anomaly,” with telephone and Internet communications switched from landline to satellite, cutting bandwidth by 97 percent.

Residents and business said it soon became apparent how important the Internet had become to modern life, even in a small island nation of 53,000 people.

Social media activity slowed to a crawl and, with online access restricted to a few hours a day, businesses sent staff to physically deliver documents, rather than e-mailing them.

The College of the Marshall Islands was forced to delay the start of its spring semester by a week, because classes simply could not function without Internet access

“I’ve been greatly affected with the Internet off for such a long time,” said Mailina Loeak, a student at the college. “I haven’t been able to go online to search on the Web, browse social media and communicate with my friends and family.”

Locals reported a deluge of residents posting photographs and updates as soon as the cable service was restored on Thursday night.

Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority General Manager Tommy Kijiner Jr said it took the repair crew longer than expected to identify the exact location of the problem on the cable, stretching the job out from nine days to 23.

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