Gebe and telecom providers meet Wednesday to discuss underground cables

POSTED: 11/5/14 10:12 AM

St. Maarten—A meeting is carded for Wednesday between the shareholder representative of Gebe and stakeholders in the telecommunications industry to discuss having all telecommunications and power cables placed underground to avoid power outages as was the case with the recent passing of hurricane Gonzalo that left numerous households without power.

Following the passage of hurricane Gonzalo, minister with responsibilities for Gebe Murice Lake announced his intention to restructure the company and to look into having the cables placed underground. According to unconfirmed reports reaching Today, this meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday with Prime Minister elect Theo Heyliger, Lake and the other stakeholders of Gebe and the telecommunications providers to discuss how this can be achieved through a phased project.

This paper has also previously reported that St. Maarten Cable TV is still waiting for Gebe to re-erect poles in certain areas, which would allow the cable provider to continue service in some areas where service has been interrupted since these poles were downed during the passage of Gonzalo. However, information reaching our news room indicates that there is a possibility that Gebe may not erect these poles because in many cases they are no longer used by that company but are instead mainly used by Cable TV, therefore making the financial burden to erect these poles “not in Gebes’ interest”.

The poles may have to be erected at the expense of the cable company especially in light of Wednesdays planned discussions to have all Gebe cables placed underground, which is said to be part of the governing accord. With the placing of all cables underground the intention is that stakeholders will contribute to the cost involved in this undertaking.

Having the telecommunications cable underground is in the best interest of the island since it would mean little or no interruption to service during hurricanes. It also means the providers will forego the additional expense of having poles and cables replaced after they have been downed by strong winds or rains from hurricanes. French St. Martin currently has their telecommunications cables underground and while they were also affected by the passing of Gonzalo, there was little to no interruption in electricity and telecommunications service. This also allowed the French side of the island to carry on with business as usual more readily than the Dutch side.

Attempts to reach Minister Lake yesterday to confirm Wednesdays’ meeting were unsuccessful.


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