Aliv, BTC report substantial losses to towers in Abaco; GB remains to be seen
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Both of the country’s telecommunication companies experienced severe challenges with mobile and landline service in Abaco and Grand Bahama, the two islands hit hardest by Hurricane Dorian, a catastrophic Category 4 storm, which continues to pounds both islands at this hour.
According to representatives from both the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Aliv, it could be quite some time before normal services are restored.
At a press conference held at the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) headquarters earlier today, BTC Senior Director of Technology and Operations Andre Foster said BTC’s said most of the towers in Abaco were down.
He added that there was no timetable in place for the lines to be fixed.
Hurricane and tropical storm force winds from Hurricane Dorian are expected to impact Abaco until 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Grand Bahama until around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“Right now, Dorian has been a hurricane of catastrophic consequences for us as a telecom provider,” Foster said. “We haven’t been able to get on the ground and physically see the devastation, but we have seen pictures. The first thing we want to do is try to get our mobile network up and running. We’re working very closely with our parent company, Liberty Latin America, to ensure that we have the resources and the infrastructure, and heavy equipment coming to the country rapidly.
“From what I did see, we have very little to work with. We have one site online in Sandy Point. It also services up to Cherokee. Most of our damage is in Cherokee up to Marsh Harbor. We’re working with what we can to see what we can do. We have a good starting point in Abaco because the south is still up.”
Foster said that Grand Bahama is a growing concern for the company, and that they’ll get a better idea of the damage in the coming hours.
“Even as we speak, we are competing against all of the damage that is happening right now,” he said. “As the storm headed to Grand Bahama, we had about 30 per cent of our services available for mobile and 20 [per cent] for fixed line. However, we won’t know what to expect.”
As for Aliv, Chief Information Officer Dwayne Davis said Aliv has one tower standing in Marsh Harbor, but the company lost 13 towers as the storm raged over the island. At its peak, Dorian blasted Abaco with 185 mile-per-hour winds.
“The plan is for us to bring up Marsh Harbor and try to start a daisy chain and bring up the other towers,” Davis said.
He said the majority of Aliv’s towers in Grand Bahama are still intact, but that could change depending on how the island is impacted over the next 24 hours.
“In Grand Bahama, we’ve only lost 13 out of 34 towers. People are calling and able to receive calls. People were also able to have data. As far as the REV side, we have powered down all nodes and all subscribers are offline.”
Davis added that ALIV is offering emergency contact numbers to NEMA to assist them with helping people that were impacted by the storm.
Eyewitness News understands that NEMA’s emergency command centers was inundated with calls from families in Abaco and Grand Bahamas seeking rescue.