By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
IN light of the breakdown of the vital infrastructure of a network provider which caused the loss of cellular phone signal for four hours in Visayas and Mindanao last week, the National Telecommunications Communication (NTC) has suggested the implementation of “domestic roaming.”
The domestic roaming, said NTC-10 regional director Teodoro Buenavista Jr., will be helpful in a situation where a subscriber is unable to communicate because the area is not serviced by the network provider that person is registered to.
With domestic roaming, Buenavista said, Globe or Smart subscribers, for instance, don’t have to worry if their respective networks’ system has malfunctioned, like what happened to Globe recently, or if their location is not part of a telco’s service area as they can still use their communications devices.
During the four-hour downtime that occurred Tuesday afternoon last week, Globe Telecomm users were unable to make calls, send or receive text messages, or use their cellphone data.
In a statement, Globe said they experienced “multiple fiber cuts, two of which were submarine cables” disrupting all of its mobile services.
Asked if Globe is liable for the interruption, the NTC-10 official said there will be disciplinary action if the NTC will find out that the network provider has committed some violation.
“In our terms and conditions, there may be some exemption if what happened was due to force majeure, then it is beyond the control of the provider. But if the NTC will find out if there is negligence on the part of the provider, there are subsequent penalties involved,” Buenavista said, although he did not elaborate what those penalties are.
Globe Telecomm liaison officer James Lopez said they are still investigating what caused the breakdown, although he recalled that the same incident happened in the past due to strong underwater current.
“We are aware the importance of telecommunication, especially in businesses,” Lopez told reporters during a committee hearing at the city council Thursday afternoon.
He said they are reviewing what really happened as the Globe’s cables were cut, adding that they are only able to repair the third cable to keeping the system running.
“We are trying to fix it in two to three months maximum, but we are trying to speed things up, to shorten the time that we can fix the primary and secondary lines,” Lopez said.
The Globe executive has also assured the public that there was no act of sabotage involved.
Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Irene Floro said the four-hour disruption affected the business sector, as all are dependent on the Globe network.
“We don’t use landlines anymore. So everybody’s using cellular phones, SMS and internet, and when the system was down we cannot communicate, we cannot transact business. We cannot even transfer money because at the time there was no network,” she said.
Floro said they will also ask the banks why the city’s automated teller machines also did not function on that day.
She said most of their transactions are done bank-to-bank, and if there’s something wrong in the system it could mean losses for the business operators.
“We were not able to transact for four hours. That’s a lot of disturbance for us. That’s a big amount of disturbance already,” Floro added.
For his part, city councilor and trade and commerce chair George Goking said the government must install an emergency broadcasting system to apprise the public of the situation in case the telecommunications infrastructure bogs down.
Goking said his committee will file a resolution requesting the banking sector to have an “alternate carrier connection” that would allow banks to make transactions in case there is a network failure.
He said the network disruption has even triggered fear and speculation among Kagay-anons.
“At least no life was lost,” the lawmaker added.