West End customers of Oceanic Time Warner Cable lost both cable television and Internet service for three days earlier this month before technicians could repair a broken fiberoptic cable.
The outage began on June 2 when a tree branch rubbed through a node on one of TWC’s fiberoptic trunks. By 3 p.m. that day, the Maui technician operations manager had received a call concerning the outage. A TWC technician on Molokai and one on Maui spent the day trying to isolate the problem.
Transportation for Maui technicians to travel to Molokai was not possible on Tuesday, said Rick Colletto, TWC general manager for Maui County. “Sometimes it’s hard to get over there,” said Colletto. Flights were not available so the technicians had to travel by the Molokai Princess ferry from Maui on Wednesday morning, said Colletto.
By 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday, the TWC technicians arrived at the hub at Pu’u Nana on the West End to begin the diagnostic work to locate the damage to the fiber trunk. Technicians determined by 2:40 p.m. that the break was located in the general area of Kaluakoi Road.
Colletto reports that the break was in an isolated field leading into Kaluakoi and the fiber was severed by a tree branch. The fiber was completely repaired by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and by 9:30 p.m. service was restored for all customers.
“We will be crediting the affected customers for their loss of service,” said Colletto.
One dissatisfied customer, who wished to remain anonymous, said she called TWC “about 12 times” after the service went out and was unable to get a clear answer. “They say there are workers ‘on the line’ trying to make repairs, but I have been all over the island, all week, and have not seen a single truck anywhere,” said this disgruntled customer. “I would love for there to be some competition against these yahoos.”
Last October, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs held a meeting in Kaunakakai to consider a 20-year renewal of its franchise license for Maui County. While residents from the Kalae area testified about problems associated with the interruption of service, no one from the Kaluakoi area testified.
Colletto mentioned two problems related to service on Molokai. First, when a service interruption is reported, a crew of technicians must travel from Maui to diagnose and fix the problem. When there are no immediate flights available this causes delays. Secondly, “Molokai is a large geographic area for the number of people,” said Colletto. Service interruptions can be caused by stray bullets, high winds or any number of other variables that are often hard to locate, he added.
“We don’t forget about anybody,” said Colletto, “that’s just the reality.”