Marianas cut from the world after cable break

  • 10/07/2015

Communications between the Northern Marianas and the rest of the world have been severely disrupted due to a break in the Pacific territory's sole fibre optic cable.

And repairs could take months, an official said Friday.

Phone and IT services in the self-governing US territory, home to 50,000 people, were completely cut off for a more than 24 hours when the undersea cable was damaged on Wednesday (local time).

Network provider IT&E said it restored limited connectivity between the main island Saipan and neighbouring Guam using a backup system on Thursday.

But Congressman Gregorio Sablan said the backup system itself needed repairs and was not operating at full capacity because its towers had been bent in recent high winds.

The cause of the break was not known but the outage has affected everything from banking transactions to flights and Sablan said it may be months before normal services resume.

In the meantime, government and emergency services are supplementing their limited connectivity with satellite phones and radio links to Guam.