Communications Blackout South of Belmopan

Southern Belize was under a communications blackout for two hours last night. That means there was no cellular service, no cable and no internet being provided between Belmopan all the way down to Punta Gorda. And that counts for both SMART and BTL.

Here's what happened. Just after 9:00 pm, at a location five miles out of Belmopan, someone shot the fibre optic cable that carries communications signal south from Belmopan. It was shot in two places, completely breaking the cable. That cable which is strapped to lamp-posts carries BTL and SMART phone signals back and forth from the switch in Belmopan. IT also carries CBC cable and BTL's internet services. The land line phones continued to work because those are connected on a separate microwave link.

BTL's Chief Operating Officer Karen Bevans confirmed that their wireless and internet system was completely down for two hours. She says that at 11:00 pm they got their wireless system running. That continued to hold things together with slightly degraded service until 3:00 this afternoon when the fibre optic was fixed. She couldn't give us an account of cost, but said that BTL engineers had to run one mile of fibre optic cable to replace it.

The ruptured line also crashed SMART's southern system and that company sent out a release saying that their service was down from 9:30 last night to 8:10 this morning from Alta Vista village to Punta Gorda.

The matter has been reported to police and it is a criminal offence to disrupt telecommunications equipment. Anyone with information is asked to call 0800-922-TIPS.

Live and let live