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    Friday, September 20, 2019-2:53:44P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Torres: Full restoration of public internet expected Monday or Tuesday

ACTING Gov. Ralph Torres says the island’s public internet access should be restored on Monday or Tuesday.

In an interview on Sunday, he said his office is working closely with IT&E and he gets daily updates from the CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office regarding the situation.

IT&E staff repair the damaged undersea cable after it was pulled from the water on Saturday. IT&E has set up a repair site on the Coral Ocean Point beach.  Photo by Cherrie Anne E. VillahermosaIT&E staff repair the damaged undersea cable after it was pulled from the water on Saturday. IT&E has set up a repair site on the Coral Ocean Point beach. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

“I think our life is back by tomorrow morning so to speak,” he said. “We did work with the Army Corps of Engineers so we can expedite the permitting needed for repair. Emails and the Facebook are back though not as fast as before.”

He said the will not lift the “significant emergency” declaration until full restoration of the internet on Saipan is completed.

“We are giving the community a timetable of Monday or Tuesday. We expect that we will see faster data by Tuesday,” Torres added.

The governor’s office assisted IT&E in securing a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the fiber-optic repair at the western edge of Coral Ocean Point beach on Saipan.

The activity involves “deployment and pinning of articulated pipes straight out along the surface of the reef flat at the COP beach and meandering through boulder and forereef habitat outside of the reef crest until a sand habitat is reached at a depth of 40 feet.”

Based on the permit issued by the Senior Project Manager Kate Bliss of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu Office, approximately 300 meters of submarine optic cable will be installed on the seabed between Saipan and Tinian. Once the cable is secured and all fibers have been tested, the divers will begin lowering the cable to the sea floor in a controlled manner along the best possible route.

During this operation, divers and other personnel from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coastal Resource Management specializing in coral protection and preservation will be present to guide the final placement of the cable on the sea and reef floor to insure minimal impact on existing coral growths.

IT&E held a press conference on Friday afternoon to announce that its full restoration activity would begin Sunday evening and continue through early morning on Monday.

Jim Oehlerking, CEO of IT&E’s mother company, PTI, said they would prioritize restoring the public internet and were looking at full capacity restoration within 48 hours.

He said “we will have finished   the repair by then and start moving traffic.”

He said they had found where the cut was and the repair team was now working on it.

Oehlerking said the rough tide and water conditions are suspected to have caused the cable break.

IT&E earlier said it would cost around $2 million to repair the cable.