Lightning knocks out Internet

A lightning strike along one of the submarine cables that connects Cayman’s Internet to the rest of the world knocked out Internet service for many on Grand Cayman Tuesday evening.

A map of the MAYA-1 submarine cable. - Photo:
A map of the MAYA-1 submarine cable. – Photo:

The lightning hit a landing station at the U.S. end of the Maya-1 cable system between Cancun, Mexico and Hollywood, Florida, on Tuesday afternoon, affecting Internet access and some phone service in Cayman, according to local telecom companies and regulators.

The Cayman Information and Communications Technology Authority advised Tuesday evening that “a lightning strike at MAYA1 cable terminal in Florida today is linked to hardware failure which is affecting the ability of Cayman telecoms providers.”

The regulator said the island had a “major outage” and Digicel customers were not able to reach 911. Logic and FLOW customers could still reach 911 during the outage, but many residents could not reach the main numbers for the George Town police station.
FLOW reported problems for mobile customers trying to call numbers in other networks.

By 9:50 p.m. Tuesday, ICTA said all issues with phone and Internet connections had been resolved.

The cable is run by a consortium of telecom companies representing each of the countries along the route. In Cayman, Cable & Wireless is the local partner. In the United States, AT&T handles the terminal for Maya-1 in Florida and was responsible for fixing the damage from Tuesday’s lightning strike.

Pamela Small, spokeswoman for Logic, said the carrier fixed the issue by 9 p.m. Tuesday and restored service. In an email, she wrote, “Maya-1 is one of the two fibre systems that provide communications to Cayman. The failure deteriorated Logic Internet service and prevented off-network phone services.”

The Cayman Islands, and the rest of the Caribbean, connects to the mainland and to the global Internet through a web of undersea cables. The Maya-1 cable runs from Florida, around Cuba, and lands in Cancun, Honduras, Grand Cayman, Costa Rica, Panama and Columbia.

Cayman has an additional route into the global Internet through a cable running from the Brac to Jamaica and into a network running through the eastern Caribbean.