Vodafone mobile coverage down in west coast Santo
By Alrenze Nicky
Coastal communities in west coast Santo have called on the Vodafone Telecommunications Company in Vanuatu to restore its mobile coverage in the area.
The Westcoast Santo Area Council Administrator, Samuel Kenneth, said the Vodafone mobile coverage in the area has been down for more than a week now.
Mr Kenneth said he was aware lighting had struck one of the company’s cell towers at Kerevinovu in west coast Santo which disrupted the coverage.
He said at the moment communities in the coastal area starting from Olboi Village to Nokuku, Avunavae, Vasaleia, Wusi and down to Kerevinovu have no access to Vodafone mobile coverage and are only communicating through internet from the 3 Link Communications to connect with friends and families.
“Even though people are using the internet from 3Link to communicate, it is still very important for Vodafone and Digicel to restore their mobile coverage in the area,” Mr Kenneth said.
He said, “If you’re lost at sea in west coast Santo, you cannot connect with the people to alert them about your emergency because you have no mobile coverage.”
Meanwhile the Vodafone Head of Run, Edward Samuel, said mobile coverage in west coast Santo should restore by the end of this week.
“We are aware of the issue and should fix it by the end of this week,” Mr Samuel said.
He said it is a big issue and the problem is not in west coast Santo. The problem is with the link that came from Wunpuko in north-west Santo and from Malo to west coast Santo.
Mr Samuel said the company has sent spare parts to Luganville to replace damaged equipment on the cell tower site in west coast Santo.
Mr Kenneth added that mobile coverage from the Digicel Telecommunications had also been down for some years now and people in west coast Santo are no longer using Digicel mobile network.
He said it is also critical that the two telecommunications companies maintain their mobile coverage in the area.
Brian Winji, the Telecommunications, Radiocommunications and Broadcasting Regulator, said last year the office carried out a coverage and quality audit in Vanuatu to identify areas that are still without coverage.
“The good news is that we have all the areas identified and we are working to close the entire gap in Vanuatu with the help of the operators and the government,” he said.
Mr Kenneth encourage people in west coast Santo to prepare for disaster as Vanuatu reaches its cyclone season.
“Now that we have an issue with mobile coverage, it is important for everyone to get a radio to stay up to date on cyclone information,” he said.