BEIRUT: Telecommunications company Ogero released a press statement Tuesday, denying responsibility for Monday’s three-hour Internet blackout and blaming Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui.
Ogero refuted Sehnaoui’s claims that informing the Ministry of Telecommunications of the need for maintenance was its responsibility, said the statement.
According to the statement, the Cabinet decided in late 2011 that the telecoms minister will be Lebanon’s representative in all matters related to the IMEWE (India-Middle East-Western Europe) cable and that the minister is the authority designated with taking all measures regarding this cable.
It added that the “Telecommunications Ministry is the only responsible authority for performing maintenance work to the IMEWE.”
Ogero said this Cabinet decision was evidence that it was the ministry’s responsibility to inform citizens of any potential complications relating to Lebanon’s internet service.
In its statement, Ogero “condemned the statement by Minister Sehnaoui” as well as the planned lawsuit the minister spoke of filing against them. The company added that it was “surprised” that the minister made an accusation “that is not related to Ogero’s mission.”
Sehanoui was unable to be reached for comment on the statement.
The response comes after Sehanoui accused Ogero of being responsible for failing to inform citizens of an upgrade to the IMEWE cable in an interview with Al-Jadeed television Monday night.
“Ogero’s behavior caused private companies and citizens financial damage and loss of service,” Sehanoui tweeted from his Twitter account Monday night.
The internet blackout is the second one in as many years, as IMEWE broke down a year ago, affecting internet services throughout the country.
In February, the Telecoms Ministry reached a preliminary agreement with Cyprus over constructing a new submarine cable dubbed EUROPA. In addition to boosting internet connection speed and capacities, the cable will serve as a backup preventing a complete blackout when IMEWE fails.
The Cabinet has yet to give a green light to the $10-million project, which will also lower costs for internet providers and subscribers, the ministry said. Last February, telecoms officials told The Daily Star that upgrades to the IMEWE cable are due to be completed this summer.