Installation of the new equipment will take place in early December, says Bluesky country manager Phill Henderson.
The walls and foundations of the building, which was gutted by fire on Friday, October 27, are still intact and the interior, which was gutted by the blaze, has now been cleared.
Henderson said most of the electronic equipment not completely damaged by fire had been heavily soot-damaged.
“Some cabinets may be able to be reused, while the rest will be treated as e-waste and disposed of accordingly,” he said.
“Bluesky often needs to decommission old equipment and this will get broken down as much as possible and shipped off to e-waste processors.”
Asked about difficulties some cell phone users are still experiencing with sending SMS messages, Henderson said Bluesky was still not charging for SMS and mobile calling and both services were being heavily used.
“As such SMS messaging may be delayed. We remind users that +682 needs to be inserted before the local mobile number before sending or calling to local mobile numbers.”
Shortly after the fire, Henderson predicted it could take three weeks until a full mobile service could be restored. However, yesterday he told CINews work had been delayed due to restricted access to the building for assessment of the fire damage by insurers.
“This took much longer than expected due to the scarcity of fire assessors in New Zealand for this type of job.
“The rebuild and electrical and infrastructure refit is now expected to be completed by the end of the first week of December before any of the equipment can be installed.
“The Bluesky team is planning to be very busy during the first weeks of December.”
Henderson said the only Bluesky service that was still out of commission was mobile data.
“Mobile calling and SMS are restored, albeit on a temporary arrangement. The outer islands services remain fully operational.”
To speed up restoration of the mobile service, Bluesky plans to air freight new equipment to Rarotonga.
“Currently our mobile vendor Huawei is on track to be ready to ship the equipment by chartered freighter on November 26. The load is now eight tonnes and 56 cubic metres. It’s estimated time of arrival on Rarotonga is December 1 and this may be reviewed depending on the progress on the (Aroa) facility rebuild.”
Asked about compensation for customers who had lost mobile data, Henderson said postpaid mobile customers had been given the option to substitute mobile data with either a wifi voucher or as additional data added to their broadband accounts.
“Our teams have been calling all our post-paid mobile customers in the last week advising of the options available and many have been very supportive.”
A Bluesky spokesperson added that customers affected by the extended internet outage in Aroa from October 27 to Otober 31 would have 25 per cent credited off their monthly rental plans. The credit would show up on the next bill, the spokesperson added.
- Cameron Scott