PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – On June 20 th 2018, Bureau Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten (BTP) – the Telecom Regulator of country St. Maarten – met with Management of the Telem Group of Companies and UTS to coordinate telecom recovery efforts in the event St. Maarten get hit by a hurricane or any other natural disaster.
During the meeting in-depth discussions took place on preparatory work on the Telecom infrastructure,
network resilience and the availability of communication services in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. While it’s clear that there are often many challenges to provide stable telecom services in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, it’s to the belief of all stakeholders involved that the chance of service continuity is greater by working together.
In order to achieve such, it’s to the belief of the Regulator that “Internal Roaming” is one of the most important things to enable in the aftermath of a storm to guarantee availability of communication services to all. When the internal roaming is activated, it means that when the network of one mobile operator is down, their customers will still be able to make use of mobile services by connecting to the network of another mobile provider.
In Sint Maartens’ case; in the event the Telcell mobile network is compromised, their mobile customers would still able to connect via the Chippie network, and in the event the Chippie network is compromised, their mobile customers would be still to connect via the Telcell network.
In the unfortunate event that Sint Maarten again gets hit by a hurricane, and it has been determined by BTP that island wide mobile coverage is no longer guaranteed to the residents of Sint Maarten due to damages on the Telecom networks, BTP will advise the Prime Minister via the EOC-Structure to effectuate a Ministerial Decree that allows for internal roaming. The internal roaming will then remain in effect as long as the country is in a state of emergency. Confirmed article 8 of “rampenbestijding” and Article 40 through 42 of the “Landsveroderning Telecommunicatie.
The director of BTP Mr. Anthony Carty stated: “Even though BTP has the legal tools to execute the sharing of networks when the country is in a state of emergency, collaboration between parties is preferred whereby there is no room for competing at that particular point. In an emergency situation all stakeholders in the industry need to come together and work together to provide services to the end users, and making sure that they are connected and be able to communicate with emergency responders and their love-ones on- and off the island. Carty continued: “we do not have any control over when the next major hurricane will hit us, but we do have control over the preparation process.
That’s why BTP will continue to make efforts to get all stakeholders in the Telecom industry to the table, and continue to work in the best interest of the island”.
“We have a common goal and BTP will continue to develop and update policies, implement service standards and provide guidance to the industry and ministry to further improve telecommunication services on St. Maarten”.