For the past two weeks, “Kick ‘Em Jenny” has literally been sending shockwaves throughout the Caribbean, the occurrence of which have once again illustrated the threat that these and other “acts of God” pose to our region’s telecommunications services. Early on Thursday, July 23rd, a large seismic event caused by the active volcano took out two subsea fibre cables in the Eastern Caribbean region, adversely affecting the operation of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Grenada, St. Vincent, Barbados, and Trinidad.
Fortunately, in Trinidad, the country still had one unaffected, functioning subsea cable – belonging to the Columbus/CWC system – demonstrating the importance of having resilient, backed-up infrastructure in the face of natural disasters.
Indeed, while the event badly affected all ISPs in Trinidad and Tobago, CWC was able to offer its additional capacity to a number of operators, enabling them to move their traffic onto a functioning network. As a result of this redirection of data and voice traffic to CWC’s redundant network, several ISPs (including Flow) were still able to ensure their residential and commercial services’ availability to customers, albeit for some providers, at potentially slower speeds as their capacity on this cable was fully utilized.
CWC’s multiple, off-island routes – with capacity north of Trinidad through the Eastern Caribbean , as well as west of Trinidad, through Curaçao to Venezuela and Puerto Rico – ultimately preserved the resiliency of its network and services to its customers. The ability to survive this off-island damage was further supported by the Company’s “caching systems,” whereby content is hosted in-country thereby significantly reducing the need for off-island bandwidth. This multi-tiered infrastructure, in effect, greatly minimized the volcano’s impact on over 100,000 broadband subscribers, the wider telecom industry and ultimately Trinidad and Tobago’s economy and society.
Kurleigh Prescod, Vice President Technology of Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited said, “CWC’s ability to ensure service continuity in the wake of such a destructive, natural force reflects the ongoing need to reinforce our region’s infrastructure integrity.
As CWC – and by extension, Flow – was in a position to provide supplementary capacity to subscribers, businesses and even other ISPs during the damage and repair period, this episode illustrates how imperative it is that CWC and other operators, whether individually or collaboratively, continue to invest in redundant network infrastructure to mitigate the effects of any similar service disruption in the future.”
Our region’s vulnerability to Mother Nature is one reason why CWC continues to invest in its infrastructure and additional off-island capacity. In addition, CWC’s ‘Disaster Recovery as a Service’ offering also gives businesses peace of mind that their mission critical data will be preserved in the event of natural disaster. As Kick ‘Em Jenny has reminded us, while we cannot adequately predict, change or eliminate the magnitude of any given environmental threat, we can nevertheless prepare for its wake.