LIHUE — Kauai got its regular internet, phone and cable TV back Monday night, but exactly what went wrong with the undersea fiber optic cable connecting the island to Oahu and the rest of the world remains unclear, and there is no firm timeline for repairs.
In the meantime, Kauai residents will rely on internet service running through a backup submarine cable, which does not have as much capacity as the one that malfunctioned Sunday night.
Engineers reconfigured Hawaiian Telcom’s backup fiber optic line Monday evening around 8 p.m., increasing capacity enough to supply its customers with regular broadband service, according to a spokesperson for the company, who said Hawaiian Telcom traffic was switched over to the backup immediately, keeping its customers online, although with slower than usual service for much of the day.
The primary cable also carried broadband traffic for Kauai’s other primary internet service provider, Spectrum, which had no backup cable, meaning its customers were left offline entirely until Monday evening. Spectrum representative Dennis Johnson declined to comment on how the company was able to restore its internet service.
In a statement sent out 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, a Spectrum representative said, “We have fully restored all Spectrum services for our customers on Kauai.”
At 5 p.m. Monday, Hawaiian Telcom spokesperson Ann Nishida Fry said Spectrum “has not reached out to us” regarding the use of the backup cable. A half hour later, a Spectrum representative sent an email saying its services “are being restored” but refused to clarify the statement.
Nishida Fry has subsequently refused to confirm or deny whether Spectrum is making use of its backup cable.
Meanwhile, internet services on Kauai appear to be back to normal, at least for now. Nishida Fry said that the backup cable has “enough bandwidth to support all of our customers’ services on Kauai.”
CenturyLink, the company that co-owns the primary fiber optic cable with Hawaiian Telcom, will be “taking the lead” on repairs, according Ann Nishida Fry. CenturyLink officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The fiber optic cable has been the island’s primary broadband artery since it was installed in 1994, and 2019 marked the extent of the cable’s 25-year life span.