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Mawar takes its toll on Palau's cable network


By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Koror—Palau is currently experiencing a nationwide internet outage while emergency repair is being done on Belau Submarine Cable Corp.’s SEA-US cable network system in Guam, according to Palau National Communications Corp.


PNCC said several cables in Beach Piti on Guam have been extensively damaged.


"While the cause of the damage is not yet known, it is very likely caused by the typhoon in late May," PNCC said.


Typhoon Mawar, which packed damaging winds, slammed into Guam on May 24, the same day a Chinese research vessel was reported to have illegally entered Palau waters.


The repair work, which began Tuesday, is expected to be completed on Saturday.


“Since BSCC’s Palau Cable Network No. 1 connects to SEA–US for onward transport to Guam, BSCC will be unable to provide service for the duration of the repair. BSCC will be unable to provide any international connectivity for Palau,” PNCC said.


Currently, Palau's only available international connection is through PNCC satellite connection, which provides limited capacity compared to normal cable service.


PNCC said it maintains backup satellite capacity for emergency situations and disaster preparedness.


“This satellite capacity will be used to ensure continuity of basic voice connectivity for all customers and internet connectivity for essential services,” PNCC said.


PNCC said during the submarine fiber outage all customers are able to access local and international Voice and SMS on both mobile and fixed lines. Customers will not have access to either mobile data or fixed-line internet services.


PNCC said essential services will have access to basic internet connectivity over PNCC’s backup satellite to ensure they can continue to function. These services include the police, fire and rescue, the hospital, and the essential functions of government and the judiciary.


Limited capacity is provided to the local banks to enable internet access for their ATMs and as well as card swipe machines at some locations.


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Earlier this month, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. disclosed that a Chinese research vessel appeared to show interest in Palau’s undersea fiber optic cable during a days-long foray into the Pacific island country’s waters.


According to a report by Island Times in Palau, the research vessel, Haiyang Dizhi Liuhao, entered Palau’s exclusive economic zone without providing any notification on the afternoon of May 24.


“It slowed to about 1-2 knots as it passed over Palau’s fiber optic cable. It continued with questionable maneuvers, passing about 45 nautical miles from Kayangel [Palau's northernmost state and islands]. Attempts by the Joint Operation Center to contact the vessel via VHF radio were unsuccessful,” Island Times quoted Palau’s National Security Coordinator Jennifer Anson as saying.


The Palau Cable 1 is the first international submarine cable connecting Palau, which began operating in 2017. The PC1 cable stretches about 200km connecting Palau to a branching unit of the SEA-US cable.



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