The weather during Christmas tested the preparedness of the operators
During the Christmas holidays, the Telecommunications Union of the Slovak Republic noted a deterioration in the availability of telecommunications services, which was caused by heavy snowfall, wind and power outages. The weather tested the preparedness of the technicians of distribution companies and telecommunications operators, who often had to use creative solutions when overcoming difficult terrain. In some cases, the cause of the reported "outage" of telecommunications services was not actually an outage or malfunction on the part of the telecommunications operator, but only a snowy antenna at the user of the service.
They could not watch the Christmas programs
During Christmas, Slovakia (finally) received a blanket of snow even in the lowlands. Simultaneously with the increasing snow cover, customers began to report service outages to telecommunications operators. However, it was not always a service outage on the operator's side. In many cases, the culprit was snow that covered the user's television (satellite) antenna. If the antenna was placed in an easily accessible place, it was enough to remove the snow from it and customers could continue to watch the Christmas program. In another case, the air temperature increased within a few hours and the snow disappeared from the antenna.
In this context, the Telecommunications Union of the Slovak Republic recommends that before reporting a "fault" to the telecommunications operator, the user should verify whether there is an error on the part of the service user. It often happens that e.g. during household cleaning, cables are inadvertently pulled out and contacts are interrupted. A similar problem can also be caused by curious young children who pull out or switch something and a "malfunction" occurs. Another "culprit" can be the weather, which can damage the antenna lead, or the already mentioned snow, which worsens signal reception.
Long power outages tested the readiness of operators
The joy of snow in some cases did not last long. The snow combined with the wind caused power outages, especially in central Slovakia, which threatened the availability of telecommunication services. Telecommunications operators are well prepared for short-term power outages, as the network nodes are powered by backup sources. Long outages combined with bad weather and inaccessible terrain are a real challenge for telecommunications technicians. Where a car cannot reach, sledges or bobsleds are used to transport an electric generator and fuel for it to the affected area.
For example, the area of Donovaly had a power outage during Christmas, which lasted more than 12 hours and brought a sleepless night to the technicians of the telecommunications operator PROFI-NET. The operator ensures the availability of services from the node in Donovaly even for the surrounding locations that did not experience a power outage. The power outage in Donovaly occurred around 8:00 p.m. The air temperature at that time was below freezing, and the operator's technicians noticed in the monitoring that the batteries were losing capacity faster. An hour after midnight, they started loading power generators and fuel into them. As they passed a gas station on the way, shut down due to a power outage, they realized the importance of not underestimating preparations. Finally, the technicians spent the night in the power transformer station, where they hid from the cold and the strong wind. They could disconnect the electric generator and leave only on the afternoon of the second day, when the supply of electricity for this location was fully restored.
Competitors helped each other in a difficult situation
The next day, there was a night-time power outage in the Donovaly - Záhradište location, where technicians brought the electric generators on bobsleds. Technicians of a competing telecommunications operator tried to carry an electric generator on their backs. Competitors joined hands and together used electricity produced by electric generators transported on bobsleds. Finally, they made coffee together on the old stove from the snow, since water was not available. Thanks to the efforts of the technicians, the PROFI-NET network worked without interruption during all the power outages, and the clients did not feel the service interruption.
In addition to all this, another nice Christmas story took place in Donovaly, when a lady with a dead cell phone came to the technicians of the telecommunications operator. She needed to make a phone call and had nowhere to charge it, so they gave her a POWER BANK as a Christmas present, which provided the necessary electricity until the supply from the network was restored.