Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation Allyson West.

Gail Alexander

Government is holding discussions with cable service providers regarding their connectivity risk and is doing its own checks to find the best solution after Monday’s outage of services, says Public Administration Minister Allyson West.

“Since we rely on international services it’s difficult for us to eliminate problems but we’ll do what we can make the system as robust as possible,” West added in the Senate yesterday.

She was replying to Independent senator Paul Richards’ queries on Monday’s problems were internet, and some cellphone and cable transmissions were affected due to under-sea cable damage. Service returned to normal that afternoon.

West confirmed an overall assessment is being done of the situation to prevent recurrence. She said what occurred on Monday was “A bit of Murphy’s Law.”

She said T&T has a sub-sea cable coming through the Antigua channel to T&T as a source of connectivity and that experienced difficulty last Tuesday.

While in the process of repairing that – which took longer due to COVID restrictions and difficulty with travelling – another cable from Curacao also experienced a power outage “And that is what caused the problem we experienced.”

When the initial break on the Antigua cable occurred last week there was no obvious power loss as the Curacao cable system worked well.

But in the “Murphy’s Law” situation that occurred, the Curacao cable and the one in the Antigua channel were both affected at the same time.

West said two of the three cable providers were more directly affected as they have greater concentration of their connectivity coming from the affected cables. The third wasn’t as significantly impacted as its connectivity was “more evenly” spread.

“While TATT doesn’t regulate access to connectivity, we can and intend to have discussions service providers regarding sources from where they receive their connections.”

West discounted that there was risk to medical services’ information since she said Government’s ICT systems in the health sector are protected, “Information wasn’t at risk but the issue (on Monday) was people getting productivity.”

She said the outage was also experienced by the Eastern Caribbean.

20,000 more devices ordered for students

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, responding to UNC Senator Wade Mark’s queries, said Government is procuring 20,000 more devices for students using online teaching services and 15,000 others are being pledged.

The Ministry had assessed that a total of 65,000 needed devices So far 17,000 were distributed.

Checks are on to ascertain the exact number of how many more are needed after assessing how many were bought by parents and provided by donors.