Network blackout eases in CNMI

8:15 pm on 14 July 2015

Phone and internet is being restored in the Northern Marianas following the network blackout that essentially isolated Saipan from the rest of the world.

A backup system finally went online yesterday, allowing some commercial clients of the telecommunications company IT&E to get internet access.

The main undersea fibre optic cable connecting Guam and the CNMI was reportedly severed by a boulder last Thursday.

Government agencies and some banks were reconnected last Friday, a day after IT&E's cable was compromised.

Tinian and Rota were restored on Friday but Saipan still has limited phone service and no internet connectivity.

While access to internet is still painfully slow, the return of connectivity is welcome news to businesses that have suffered the past four days without internet.

The CNMI, which depends largely on its rebounding tourism industry, saw commerce come to a virtual standstill as retailers couldn't charge using credit cards.

Even local residents couldn't access their money as ATM machines stopped dispensing money.

To make matters worse, banks also withheld withdrawals because they didn't have access to deposit records.

Airlines had to cancel some flights because of the lack of communication from the outside world, after flights were already cancelled because of the approach of Tropical Storm Nangka last Thursday.

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