The October 27 fire, destroyed the island’s entire second core site, causing damage that Bluesky country manager Phillip Henderson said would cost the company “millions”.
Initially it was believed the full restoration of services would take up to three weeks and that the Rarotonga and Aitutaki landline, mobile and internet services would be fully operational again.
“A permanent fix will take around three or more weeks. We have our options to rebuild at Aroa, a redesign and other things that we are looking at right now,” Henderson said in a statement following the fire.
He said the timeline had been tentatively set based on whether vendors had the required replacement equipment available for quick deployment.
Services have steadily been restored around the island since the fire, and during this period Bluesky have made texting and calling free.
“This (mobile fix) remains a work-around. All mobile calls and SMS under this restoration service will be free of charge for both post-paid and prepaid subscribers while we work to fully restore the service,” Henderson said.
“Calls to fixed lines and international numbers will not be available under this service. To use the mobile service, please ensure to dial +682 then the number.”
However, numerous people have struggled to make the system work.
One Arorangi resident who spoke to CINews said while he appreciated the difficulties Bluesky was facing, it was frustrating for people who depended on the internet to pay bills and to be able to work from home.
“Bluesky advise you to phone 123 if you need help, but how on earth can you do that when you have no landline, mobile or internet?” the resident, who asked not to be named, said.
Other residents on the western side of the island have since reported “patchy” internet service and the complete loss of service at times, while the delivery of text messages appears unpredictable.
Oddly, Bluesky management have made no more statements on restoration of the service since last week, leaving residents in the dark as to whether more progress has been made and whether there is an end in sight to the problems. There has also been no word on compensation for residents who lost their broadband and other services.
Yesterday a company representative said Bluesky would be releasing a statement “sometime” this week.
- Conor Leathley/CS