Domestic roaming needed in case of network failure: NTC-10 chief

By: Jigger Jerusalem

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Following the breakdown of the vital infrastructure of a network provider that caused the loss of cell phone signal for four hours in Visayas and Mindanao Tuesday, the chief of the National Telecommunications Communication in Region 10 (NTC-10) has proposed the implementation of “domestic roaming”.

Domestic roaming, said NTC-10 regional director Teodoro Buenavista Jr., will be helpful if a subscriber is unable to communicate because the other person is not serviced by the network provider.

Buenavista said that, with domestic roaming, Globe or Smart subscribers, for instance, do not have to worry if any of their networks has malfunctioned–such as what happened to Globe recently–or if their location is not part of a telco’s service area, because they can still use their communication devices.

During the four-hour downtime that occurred Tuesday afternoon, Globe Telecom users were unable to make calls, send or receive text messages, or use their cellphone data.

In a statement, Globe said they experienced “multiple fiber cuts, two of which were submarine cables” that disrupted all of its mobile services.

Asked if Globe is liable for the interruption, the NTC-10 official said there will be disciplinary action if the NTC finds out that the network provider has committed violations.

“In our terms and conditions, there may be some exemption if what happened was due to force majeure, then it is beyond the control of the provider. But if the NTC will find out if there is negligence on the part of the provider, there are subsequent penalties involved,” Buenavista said, although he did not elaborate what the penalties are.

Globe Telecom liaison officer James Lopez said they are still investigating what caused the breakdown, although he recalled that the same incident happened in the past due to strong underwater current.

“We are aware the importance of telecommunication, especially in businesses,” Lopez told reporters during a committee hearing at the City Council Thursday afternoon.

He said they are reviewing what really happened as the Globe’s cables were cut, adding that they are only able to repair the third cable to keep the system running.

“We are trying to fix it in two to three months maximum, but we are trying to speed things up, to shorten the time that we can fix the primary and secondary lines,” Lopez said.

The Globe executive also assured the public that there was no act of sabotage involved.

Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Irene Floro said the four-hour disruption has affected the local business sector, as almost all are dependent on the Globe network.

“We don’t use landlines anymore. So everybody’s using cellular phones, SMS and internet, and when the system was down we cannot communicate, we cannot transact business. We cannot even transfer money because at the time there was no network,” she said.

Floro said they will also ask the banks why the city’s automated teller machines also did not function on that day.

She said most of their transactions are done bank-to-bank, and if there’s something wrong in the system it could mean losses for the business operators.

For his part, City Councilor said George Goking said the government must install an emergency broadcasting system to apprise the public of the situation in case the telecommunications infrastructure bogs down.

Goking said his committee will file a resolution requesting the banking sector to have an “alternate carrier connection” that would allow banks to make transactions in case there is a network failure. (PNA)

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