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Caribbean telecoms – How do you solve a problem like Maria?

By Chris Kelly, From Total Telecom

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, telcos are having to club together to repair infrastructure and ensure that vital communications channels remain open

Last September, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Caribbean ripped through the region, causing unprecedented levels of destruction. Hurricane Irma produced sustained winds of more than 200mph, far in excess of the 156mph required to meet the highest Category 5 status.

The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and St Martin bore the brunt of the devastation, with experts predicting that it could be years rather than months before the islands are restored to their former glory.
Just 10 days later, Hurricane Maria rolled across the region, reaching Category 3 status before it smashed into the island of Puerto Rico.

As someone who experienced the terrifying power of Irma first hand, I can attest to the fact that in the hours following a natural disaster of that magnitude, telecommunication networks are absolutely critical. As my wife and I emerged from the wreckage of our home on Tortola, I was amazed to find that, despite having no roof on our house, glass in our windows, running water, electricity or sewerage, we still had mobile network coverage.

Despite this small miracle, the impact of Irma and Maria on the region’s telecoms sector overall has been catastrophic. On Tortola, pretty much every cable pylon was ripped out of the ground and thrown across the road. Cell towers were destroyed, power generators obliterated. Clearing it all up, and more importantly, getting everything back up and running is going to be some job.

Today at Mobile World Congress, I met with Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, to find out how the region’s telecoms sector is recovering in the aftermath of two devastating natural disasters in the space of 2 weeks.

To listen to the full interview go to web link below

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