Cyclone cause of Telikom outage

National, Normal

THE cyclone affecting parts of Australia has had an effect on Papua New Guinea, with strong winds knocking an antenna off alignment on Telikom’s repeater station on Mt Strong near the border of Morobe and Central provinces.
This was identified as the major cause of the communication service outage experienced in most parts of Momase and the Highlands regions the past week.
Telikom PNG head of core network, Tony Morisause, said apart from the antenna being off alignment, engineers were also investigating other possible causes as they work to fully restore services. Engineers braved bad weather and finally made it to the site at 10.40am on Monday.
“Very strong winds and cloud cover at an altitude of 7,000ft above sea level on Mt Strong is the major hindrance to our engineers getting to the site.
“The outage was reported last Tuesday and our team of engineers got there despite continuous bad weather conditions,” he said.
The Mt Strong repeater may be located further inland, but is within reach of the strong winds generated by the tropical cyclone which formed over north-eastern Australia.
“Despite the system outage last Tuesday, there has been continuous voice coverage via our back up satellite link, although customers may have experienced congestion due to limited traffic capacity,” Mr Morisause said.
 The “back route” communication link between Boroko and Mt Hagen, which serves as the back up, also reported a system outage last Friday but normal services were restored on Sunday morning by technicians.
The New Guinea Islands services through the Mt Sakail system is also down, but normal communication traffic is being carried on satellite back-up to Kimbe and Rabaul.
Bad weather in the tropical monsoon season can be expected to impact on telecommunications services, but technicians are prepared to work long hours and even take risks to keep the system operational, while satellite back-up is deployed, Mr Morisause said.
Inevitably, voice, data and mobile coverage in some centres will also be affected, he said.