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Cable Outage Caused by Water Leak

Oceanic Time Warner Cable customers on Molokai were without cable services for about 30 hours last week starting Wednesday evening. The outage was caused by a water leak in the east end building that houses Oceanic’s equipment, according to Norman Santos, vice president of engineering for Oceanic.

The company uses microwave signals to send cable and Internet signals from Lahaina, Maui to Molokai. A small building in east Molokai serves as the hub to receive those transmission signals. Santos said water started dripping into the building last Wednesday evening, March 9, and shorted out the two receivers for video signal. The third receiver for Internet remained operational, and Oceanic Internet did not fail during that time, according to Santos.

“We started scrambling for the parts that evening from Maui,” said Santos. “Someone landed on Molokai at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday… [and] by about 5:30 p.m., [he] got one receiver working.”

That receiver got about 50 analogue channels back on, and it was early morning – around 2 a.m. on Friday – that Santos said full service was restored. He said so far, the replacement equipment is holding up well. Molokai was experiencing high winds during that time, and Santos was unsure whether that could have contributed to the water leak. He added that the building’s roof had been repaired last year and technicians were not sure where the water had come in.

“We are in the process of ordering new equipment as back up that would stay on Molokai,” said Santos, acknowledging that Oceanic is looking to improve Molokai’s service.

“We’re looking at different ways to serve Molokai – microwave is old technology. We haven’t been happy with how we’re serving the island from a video standpoint,” he said, adding that the company is looking to lease fiber optic cable in the future.

Though many Molokai customers expressed frustration about the outage and some even said they would look into other service providers because of it, Molokai customer service representative Liz Lum said she is grateful for Molokai residents showing so much patience.

“Even when we do experience something like this, I get awesome support and appreciation from them,” she said.

Last week, the Molokai Oceanic office offered rebates on 24 hours of service to compensate customers for the outage only on a request-based basis. Santos said he will be discussing the issue with fellow officials this week and he expects Molokai customers will receive an automatic credit on their account as a result.

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