The Marshall Islands, a chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and the Philippines, now has internet services restored, after the nation endured a three-week blackout while its only subsea fiber-optic cable was repaired.
Services were cut in late December after a “power anomaly”, with phone and internet communications switched from landline to satellite, cutting bandwidth by 97 percent. It was reported that once the internet services were cut, locals realized just how important it was to their lives – even in a small island nation of 53,000 people.
Online access was cut back to just a few hours a day and social media slowed down significantly in the country. According to reports, businesses resorted to physically delivering documents rather than emailing them. The College of the Marshall Islands had to delay the start of its spring semester by a week since classes could not function without internet services.
“I’ve been greatly affected with the internet off for such a long time,” said Mailina Loek, a second year student at the school. “I haven’t been able to go online to search on the web, browse social media, and communication with my friends and family.”
When internet services were restored on Thursday night, 19 January, locals reported a sudden surge in residents posting photos and updates online, clearly pleased to once again have access to social media and the likes. National Telecommunications Authority general manager Tommy Kijiner Jr. said it took the repair crew longer than expected to identify the exact location of the problem on the cable, stretching the job out from nine days to 23.