Snow avalanche damages optical fibres, disrupts telecommunication

Snow avalanche damages optical fibres, disrupts telecommunication

Subscribers of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said for most of the day, signal on their mobile phones was completely lost as they could not make any calls.

The telecom subscribers across Kashmir on Tuesday woke up to complete disruption of services after several optical fibres providing mobile, broadband and landline connections were cut-off due to a snow avalanche near Jawahar Tunnel on the Jammu Srinagar highway.

Subscribers of state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said for most of the day, signal on their mobile phones was completely lost as they could not make any calls. The landline subscribers said the network was lost for several hours during which they could neither receive nor make any calls.  They also complained of broadband services being disrupted.   

"I had to call back home but every time I tried there was a call drop. Most of the subscribers’ numbers were not reachable,” said Ghulam Muhammad, a subscriber. 

A BSNL broadband subscriber, Nissar Bhat (landline no. 2490025) said he found his broadband connection down in the morning. “I tried several times the BSNL no. 1504 but it was not working.”

He added: “Finally, somehow I could make the contact and the broadband was restored after some time but only to be disconnected later in the day.”

He said he faced lot of difficulties as he could not connect the broadband. 

Scores of BSNL subscribers who had visited BSNL headquarters and other bill payment counters for payment of mobile and landline bills had to return disappointed due to the system failure. 

Abdul Qadir, a BSNL subscriber said he waited in the queue for a long time but couldn’t pay the bill. “There were dozens of people waiting in the queue but the system was down and we couldn’t pay the bill. I had to pay mobile bill but system failure on their part wasted my time,” Qadir said. Several broadband users also complained of disruption in services. “I had to mail some important documents outside the Valley but it took several hours before the broadband connectivity was restored,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a subscriber.  

A BSNL official said the optical fibre which runs underground usually gets cut due to landslides. “We have set-ups in Jammu and Chandigarh on which the telecommunication system of the Valley is hugely dependent. Any problem in the optical fibre completely snaps telecommunication connectivity,” said the official.  

The official said optical fibre of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) which is also used by BSNL for the bandwidth has suffered disruption due to the avalanche and landslides on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. 

“Even the PGCIL optical fibre was cut due to the snowfall but it was also restored later in the day,” said the official.

When contacted, Muhammad Zaffar Iqbal, General Manager, BSNL (Kashmir) said restoration of the snapped optical fibre was done by a team of technicians from Jammu. “We ensured that service is restored on time so that subscribers don’t suffer,” Iqbal said.

Pertinently, Jammu and Kashmir has reached 1.30 crore total subscriber base, bringing a cheer to telecom operators but complaints of erratic service from various parts of Kashmir are proving to be a dampener. 

In 2017, the state has so far maintained its position of being among top three states, in terms of addition of new mobile subscribers.