URCA finds BTC outages to be result of poor design and maintenance

3 Jan 2013

Bahamian watchdog the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) has issued a preliminary determination and draft order regarding the Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC’s) service outages in June last year that disrupted fixed and cellular communications nationwide. Following its investigation into the matter, URCA has found that BTC breached the conditions of its operating licence by failing to ‘take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, the proper and effective functioning of its public telephone network.’

URCA found that BTC had failed to establish adequate redundancies, resiliencies and contingencies in its network design, despite being aware of potential limitations since April 2011. Further, BTC was considered to have taken inadequate preventative measures at the technical complex in which the fault occurred, failing to test and maintain backup batteries and automatic transfer switches: during the outages in June, BTC’s entire bank of batteries in the facility, the generator and switch system all failed as a result of the lack of proper maintenance.

The regulator has therefore issued a draft order to BTC imposing the following obligations on the provider: to conduct an analysis and risk assessment to reduce all major weaknesses and vulnerabilities in its network infrastructure; to establish backup power supply at the technical complex in question before 28 February 2013; to systematically conduct preventative maintenance of its network, ancillary and stand-by equipment in line with a schedule to be drawn up with URCA, and; to systematically perform tests on stand-by equipment in accordance with international standards of best practice. BTC has until 25 January to respond to the notice before URCA will issue its final determination and order, after which the watchdog’s instructions will come into force.

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