Marshall Islands Back Online After over Three Weeks Without Internet

Marshall Islands Back Online After over Three Weeks Without Internet

Sometimes we don’t know just how dependent addicted we are to our digital devices and the connected world until it’s gone. Just scroll through some tweets during any major service outage and the picture becomes abundantly clear.

It might seem like the end of the world when it’s happening, but for most of us, service outages are resolved in a matter of hours (or at worst, days). But what if you had to go over three weeks without internet? How would you adjust cope?

This was the harsh reality for those who hail from the Marshall Islands. A damaged underwater fiber optic cable left the small island country’s some 53,000 residents without internet in late December. Repairs were originally scheduled to be completed by January 8th, but the complications of working with an underwater cable pushed that date back until late last week.

In an interview with Pacific Beat regarding the delay, head of the National Telecommunications Authority, Tommy Kijiner Jr. said “I’ve been told that locating the repair site is like finding a pin head in a 3-mile stretch of cable.”

The service outage forced the Marshall Islands to revert to satellite backup to remain (barely) connected. With the satellites providing just 3 percent of the country’s normal bandwidth, the limited bandwidth that was available during the blackout was reserved for businesses and essential services.

That left the Marshallese people internet-less for a little over three weeks. No social media. No streaming services. Nothing.

How did they adjust? Well, according to President Dr. Hilda Heine, not great. In her state of the nation address during the blackout, she told parliament that many Marshallese were suffering “internet withdrawal symptoms.”

Can you blame them, though? We live in an ultra-connected world. A world where we check facebook on average 14 times per day. A world where we depend on the internet for our news, entertainment, and just about everything else. Take that away, and what are we to do? Enjoy the warm weather and beautiful beaches of the Marshall Islands? The humanity!

How would you fare in a three-week internet blackout? Would it be world’s end or a welcomed break?