Telecom services continue to stutter five days after Cyclone Amphan left Calcutta.
One of the reasons is that power supply has yet to be restored to all the towers in the affected areas. Those with better coverage now had invested in back-up such as diesel generators which are keeping the towers functional.
The following are some of the problems listed by some telecom service operators and telecom infrastructure companies, besides the power problem.
- Damage to the base transceiver stations (BTS) that facilitate wireless communication between a device and the network.
- Damage to fibres and cables.
- Accessibility to the network sites. Fallen trees have stalled the movement of service personnel and supply of diesel which is critical to run generators for power backup.
- Some towers that have resumed operations are hit afresh by erratic power supply and bottlenecks in supply of diesel.
For the past five days, thousands of people in the two 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly have not had any connection.
A call from Gariahat to Beliaghata took 11 attempts on Monday spread over three hours to connect the users at either end.
Connectivity got worse further from the city.
People have not been able to reach their family or doctors for emergency consultations. Thousands have not been able to work from home.
It is estimated that around 900 towers alone in Calcutta have been hit by the cyclone.
“Network is back at about 80-85 per cent performance level as of Monday. DoT (Department of Telecommunication) has been informed that by tomorrow it will improve to 90-95 per cent. But erratic power supply is still a problem. Even if the network goes up to 95 per cent, with erratic power supply the problem persists. Moreover, there is network disruption on account of fibre cuts and certain areas are still inaccessible,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of the COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India).
A Dover Terrace resident asked: “Why should wireless connection be so paralysed? Is it because the telcos don’t spend enough on building infrastructure?”
“As of now, the situation of power supply in Calcutta has improved. But it will take a while for electricity to get stable. Diesel gensets, batteries and field rescue teams are kept in readiness. We have also requested DoT to help us with availability of diesel in some areas like North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and East Midnapore,” said T.R. Dua of the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association.
“We are working under extremely tough conditions and amid Covid related restrictions to restore connectivity,” said a Vodafone Idea official.