URCA investigates blackout, BTC suspects sabotage

27 Jun 2012

Bahamian telecoms regulator the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has informed the Bahamas Telecommunication Company (BTC) that it is investigating the telco’s actions regarding the recent network blackouts. The watchdog said it was looking into whether or not BTC took all ‘reasonably practicable’ measures to prevent network outages and if the telco took all appropriate steps to restore the networks within the shortest time frame possible. The URCA has given BTC until 9 July to provide a detailed report on the outage, covering technical details of points of failure, the impact of each failure and the time in which personnel responded.

Further, the URCA has forbidden the BTC from: ‘disposing of, destroying, or otherwise removing from the BTC’s control any data documents, information or equipment relating to the affected parts of its fixed (voice and broadband) and cellular mobile networks for the period of 90 days immediately prior to and following the outages.’

Meanwhile, local news source the Nassau Guardian reports that staff at BTC have railed against allegations of sabotage relating to the blackout. Bernard Evans, head of the Bahamas Communication and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) called the accusations ‘ludicrous’, saying that management should take responsibility for not preventing a system-wide crash. Investigators linked the timing of the blackout, and earlier protests made by BTC staff against privatisation prior to CWC taking control, as the outage occurred on the same day that CEO of parent company Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) arrived in the Bahamas to meet with the newly elected PM Perry Christie – as previously noted by CommsUpdate, Christie was keen to discuss the possibility of renationalising BTC with the CEO of CWC. A spokesperson for the telco said that the investigation was looking at ‘every possible angle.’

The union head, however, dismissed the accusations, saying: ‘We would not have stooped to this foolishness.’ Instead, Evans claimed that ‘it was a lack of maintenance,’ adding that ‘[BTC officials] are trying to cast the blame elsewhere, but its poor management: they tried to cut expenses but they cut too deep.’

Bahamas, Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC),

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