Article Lead Image

U.S. island territory lost all Internet because of one cut cable

Don't cut the cord.


AJ Dellinger


Posted on Jul 10, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 9:33 am CDT

While many people are figuratively cutting the cord and ridding themselves of standard cable and land lines, one country took it a little too literally and found themselves without Internet.

Citizens of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Oceans, have been without Internet for over 48 hours after an underwater fiber-optic cable was cut. 

Telecommunications company IT&E has not been able to identify the cause of the slashed cord, but said in a press release, “indications are that this failure is a result of complications from the recent passing of Typhoon Chan-Hom, through the Marianas islands.” The nearby island of Guam was also affected by the storm, having its older phone networks knocked offline.

IT&E continues to work to reconnect the CNMI’s 50,000 residents to the web. Some service has been restored thanks to a microwave link that remained from the territory’s old infrastructure. That link had been replaced in 1997 in favor of the fiber optic cable. The cable runs from CNMI to Guam, and another runs from Guam across the Pacific, serving as the lone link to the rest of the world.

With that tether cut, CNMI is now an island in terms of communication: On-island communication is possible, but reaching out to people beyond the island chain is not.

There is no timeline for when the islands will come back online. IT&E hope to have a better idea as to how long the restoration will take within the next few days.

H/T Ars Technica | Illustration by Max Fleishman

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 10, 2015, 1:53 pm CDT