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Venezuelans turn to satellite communications during power outages

Venezuelans turn to satellite communications during power outages

Venezuela is currently undergoing country-wide blackouts that are leaving 98% of the population without internet connectivity.

This month, Venezuela experienced its largest and most widespread power outage in recent history, with no power available for six to eight days. According to PostNetBlocks, a nongovernmental organization that tracks internet disruptions around the globe, “the Internet outage was massive … at one point, only 2% of the country had connectivity.”

Banks, stores and restaurants were closed amid reports that few people were leaving their homes. Refineries and oil plants stalled production and many sea vessels were docked longer than scheduled. Even more concerning, government agencies and hospitals were closed, resulting in 52 reports of death.

Power outages mean losing connectivity with the rest of the world. Both families and large corporations increasingly need to ensure that they have access to backup power to stay connected during any crisis.

Tina Blanco, owner of the Florida-based Satellite Phone Store stated, “Power is out in Venezuela, so we are seeing lots of customers from all over the world getting satellite phones and satellite internet to take to Venezuela.”

For example, families that own a satellite phone or a small portable satellite modem can still use the internet the next time the power goes out. Large companies and organisations can set up backup satellite terminals to keep the company connected and running properly, despite the continued blackouts.

Corpoelec, the state electricity company reported there had been “sabotage” of the country’s largest source of electricity, the Guri hydroelectric plant in Bolivar. Reinforcements are currently being deployed to various plants around the country to protect the electrical system.

However, for years, experts and workers at the state electric company have warned about a crippling lack of maintenance and the massive exodus of professionals from power plants and other institutions.

Russ Dallen, a managing partner at the brokerage Caracas Capital Markets, said the cause of the outage was that the government “stole the money that should have been invested in upgrading the power grid and in buying power plants.”

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