Telecommunications company Aliv now has 99 percent cellular network coverage on both Grand Bahama and Abaco, the company’s Chief Aliv Officer Damian Blackburn said yesterday, adding that the national roaming agreement between Aliv and Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) will continue on Abaco for another month-and-a-half.
Blackburn said the only area of the Abacos that has not been restored is Grand Cay, but he said Aliv is currently working on the island and will have full network coverage across The Bahamas once the island is back up.
According to Blackburn, the biggest challenge at the moment is keeping the generators at the cell sites properly fueled and running on Abaco, where there is still no power. He said there are only about nine sites on Grand Bahama still being powered by generators.
“Most of the impact on the Aliv network was on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama,” said Blackburn.
He explained that Aliv and its teams deployed protocols and plans before Hurricane Dorian hit and planned for long-term outage.
“From one or two days before the storm, we planned for a worst-case scenario and that included how we would fuel the sites in Abaco,” said Blackburn.
He added that once the storm was out of The Bahamas, engineers were immediately dispatched to the affected islands and equipment was shipped on boats and airlifted in order to begin restoration.
According to Blackburn, nine days after the storm, full 3G and LTE coverage was restored to Great and Little Abaco, with both areas restored to 99 percent coverage yesterday. On Grand Bahama, almost 80 percent coverage was restored by September 4.
Blackburn said most of Aliv’s equipment was damaged by flooding, but there wasn’t any structural damage to either Aliv or Cable Bahamas’ buildings.
In the aftermath of the storm, the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) insisted Aliv and BTC implement a national roaming agreement, where both companies would allow roaming on the other company’s network without charges. The roaming continues on Abaco but ended on Grand Bahama three days ago, according to Blackburn.
Blackburn said Aliv is thankful for partners like the National Emergency Management Agency, Huawei and “all of the people who have come to assist us, including local suppliers and Aliv’s engineering team”.