“Out of coverage area”; constant electricity outage disrupts internet services, life in Homs
Enab Baladi – Homs
The central governorate of Homs suffers from the absence of telecommunication coverage and internet service in conjunction with power outages and its increasing frequency in winter, without government solutions to the phenomenon that has been going on for years.
The absence of strong sunlight stopped the work of the solar energy systems that supply the towers with electric current during the winter season, while the “rationing” hours reached one hour compared to seven hours cut off, which made the batteries unable to charge and led to the towers almost completely stopping working.
Communications service in most of the outlying neighborhoods of Homs and all of its countryside is paralyzed during most of the daytime hours, as it may work for a period not exceeding three hours in a 24-hour period.
The absence of telecom services hinders the work of residents in the central region, as many institutions and companies depend on the Internet and communications services in their work, and gas stations suffer from difficulty in using state-subsidized petrol cards.
Hussein al-Shamir, 32, from the city of al-Rastan in the northern countryside of Homs, told Enab Baladi that he had to wait more than two hours at the al-Haram exchange company to receive a money transfer due to the absence of the Internet, adding that this problem is “chronic” in the company.
Ahmed, 43, who owns a gas station near the town of Talbiseh, told Enab Baladi that the broken telecom network hinders the use of the state-subsidized cards (known as Smart Card) and to use Takamol company’s card reader devices, adding that he may have to move three kilometers from the station to be able to use the cards.
The stoppage of telecom towers also impedes communication between residents and increases the duration of calls with interruption of sound and disconnection of the line more than once.
Regarding phone calls, Abd al-Rahman al-Azzo, 29, a resident of al-Khalidiya neighborhood, said that their quality has been very poor since the start of the winter season due to the distortion of the line, the interruption of the sound and the disconnection of the line more than once.
Meanwhile, residents are forced to repeat the same call more than once, from three to four times, which doubles the expense, said al-Azzo.
Muhammad Faris, director of residential sales and customer services at the Syrian Telecom Company, talked about the increase in requests to halt subscription demands to landline telephones and Internet portals, which were submitted by citizens during the last period.
Faris explained to the state-run al-Baath newspaper that the increase in electrical “rationing” hours in 2022 has weakened communication services and reduced the hours of their availability after the demand for subscribing to fixed telephone lines was due to the desire of subscribers to install Internet portals.
According to Faris, the difficulties facing the reality of communications and the lack of power carriers affected the service’s delivery to customers, especially in rural areas, which prompted subscribers to decide to suspend their requests or cancel the service.
The two telecom companies, Syriatel and MTN, allocate specific numbers to record and follow up on complaints related to poor service, and despite registering complaints, the two companies do not respond to requests to fix faults.
Zaher al-Mahmoud, of al-Rastan, says that he called Syriatel company to report the bad communication network, and the employee told him that the reason was due to a malfunction in the main tower that feeds the area with the Internet.
A month and a half after the complaint, the tower problem has not been resolved, despite the many calls made by the residents of the area.
Power outages could last for days
The local pro-regime newspaper, al-Watan, reported on 5 January that the electrical situation in Homs city has been deteriorating since the onset of winter.
The reasons are due to the large number of faults and their recurrence, the long power outage that may reach consecutive days, in addition to disconnecting the electricity from the homes minutes after the current was connected, and the occurrence of new faults.
In turn, Mahmoud Hadid, director of the Homs Electricity Company, said the power networks that feed the city are generally weak and not in excellent quality since they are based on aluminum wires by 90% of the lengths of the low-voltage networks.
According to Hadid, the faults that occur in the electric current are divided into two types, either in the transmission centers, as a result of excessive voltage and dependence on electricity in all household uses, or faults that occur on the network because the density, conductivity, and durability of aluminum wires are less than copper, and this is what causes the wires to droop and break.
According to a research study prepared by Sinan Hatahet and Dr. Karam Shaar in September 2021, the last ten years have exacerbated the service conditions related to electricity to a large extent in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime, as the per capita share of the state’s electricity consumption has become 15% of what it was in 2010.
The long hours of “rationing” electricity forced residents to rely on alternatives, such as “ampere” electricity generators, which local residents rely on in light of the electricity cuts in various Syrian regions. Its price is linked to the price of diesel which reached unprecedented levels in the past weeks.
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