Dhiraagu reveals cable repair vessel to arrive April 25, discusses compensation

Dhiraagu has said it does not wish to speculate on a date for the completion of repairs to a damaged section of submarine cable that has severely impacted its internet services over the last week.

The local telecoms group said that until repair work commences on April 25, the company would not be able address the scale and cause of the damage to a section of cable based 26 kilometres from the Sri Lankan coast.  However, a spokesperson stressed to Minivan News that the cause of damage to the cable was being seen as an “accident” at present.

Company Chief Executive Ismail Rasheed today told local media that Dhiraagu would be providing compensation for customers affected by the disruption to its internet services as it works to increase capacity.

Dhiraagu has been looking for so called “diversity routes” since the damage occurred to the cable last Wednesday (April 18), forcing it to provide a “degraded” service to its internet customers,  whilst prioritising e-mail and browsing services.

Dhiraagu added that as part of a national agreement, telecoms rival Wataniya would be assisting in providing data capacity from its own unaffected submarine cable.  The company has said that is is also working to strengthen its satellite operations for international phone services.

Asean Explorer

Company spokesperson Imjad Jaleel has told Minivan News that the Asean Explorer vessel equipped to enact repairs on submarine cables was still expected to leave India on Tuesday before arriving in Sri Lanka the next day.

According to the company, the damage has been located to a section of cable situated 40 metres below the Sri Lankan waters. The cable itself connects Sri Lanka directly to the island of Huhlumale’. From Hulhumale’, this signal is then carried across the country’s scattered atolls.

Spokesperson Imjad stressed that the company would not yet be speculating on a date for full services to resume until it could offer more detailed information to its customers.

The damage sustained to its cable was still being considered an “accident”, possibly resulting from an errant anchor, he added.

The company claimed that preliminary testing had shown that the damage was not believed to have resulted from earth quakes or other geological occurrences, leaving anchoring ships as the most probable cause.

According to Imjad, the cable itself is situated in one of two areas in Sri Lankan waters specifically set aside for the country to house its underwater communications cables. In these areas, the anchoring of ships is not permitted, he added.

“We believe that there could have been an accident with an anchor perhaps accidentally being dropped in these waters, but we will only be able to asses fully on April 25,” Imjad claimed.


Dhiraagu expects submarine cable repairs to begin Wednesday

Repair work to a damaged submarine cable that has affected internet services provided by local telecoms group Dhiraagu is expected to begin on Wednesday, local media has reported.

Dhiraagu has been having to provide a “degraded” internet service since Wednesday evening after a section of submarine cable located 26km off the coast of Sri Lanka was damaged. The cable is used by the group to provide internet service to the Maldives.

Despite initial estimates that the problem would be resolved in three to four days, the company now expects repairs to begin once a specially equipped repair vessel arrives in Sri Lanka. The ship is expected to arrive Tuesday, according to local newspaper Haveeru.

The company has said that in the meantime it is continuing its work on supplying “diversity routes” that will allow it to try and prioritise offering web browsing and e-mail services to customers.

Wataniya, Dhiraagu’s main competitor in the national telecommunications market, has said in a press release that it will aim to assist in providing data capacity through its own unaffected submarine cable network.


Dhiraagu warns of “degraded” internet service over submarine cable damage

Dhiraagu has said its internet customers could face “degraded service” for the next few days as work is undertaken to repair a damaged submarine cable between the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Dhiraagu spokesperson Imjad Jaleel said that “diversity routes” were
now being used by the company to ensure that locally hosted web
services could be accessed today, as it aims to prioritise the
provision of web browsing and e-mail services to customers.

“There should be no problems for locally hosted sites right now,”
Jaleel claimed. “We are looking to make use of diversity routes that
will allow us to prioritise important services such as e-mail and
browsing services for our customers even on sites based

Degraded services started occurring on Wednesday evening.  Some business
organisations have expressed concerns that interrupted services were
already having a detrimental impact on local businesses such as those in the
tourism sector that rely on online bookings.

Dhiraagu is one of the country’s largest internet service providers,
dominating the internet and telecommunications sector. Dhiraagu’s main
competitor Wataniya has said it does not currently have any issues with the
provision of its internet services.

Submarine cable

According to Dhiraagu, the problem with its internet service has arisen due
to damage sustained on a section of international submarine cable
located 26 kilometres off the coast of Sri Lanka. The cable is used by
the company to provide broadband services to the country.

Jaleel said the damaged area of cable had been located and a
regionally-based specialised vessel called the Asean Explorer was now
on its way to the affected area to conduct repairs. The vessel is
expected to arrive in the next 24 to 48 hours.

“This has impacted our customers’ access to the internet, it is
estimated that normal services will return in three to four days,”
Jaleel said. “The cable is located 40 metres below the water and this
is the first time that damage like this has taken place on our

Jaleel said the company would not know the exact cause of the damage
to the cable until the Asian Explorer vessel began repairs. However,
he said the damage may been caused by a vessel anchoring in shallow

“We would like to assure customers that we are presently seeking out
diversity routes and that everyone should be able to access locally
hosted web sites,” he said. “The Asian Explorer vessel that is on its
way now is designed specially to deal with repairs like this.”

Speaking to Minivan News today, the Maldives National Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) Vice President Ismail Asif claimed that
it had received several concerns regarding the impact of internet
connectivity issues on local business.

Asif claimed that the chamber had not received information from Dhiraagu as
yet on the issues affecting local internet service, adding that the
organisaton has itself been experiencing problems with its e-mail.

“We are still awaiting information right now from our members on the
scale of the impact, but almost everything we do relies on e-mails,
even letters we receive are scanned rather than faxed these days,” he
said. “Therefore, we expect there to be a huge impact on businesses.”

In terms of specific vulnerabilities to internet connections, the
MNCCI said that many of the country’s tourism related companies
significantly based their operations online.

“We cannot give the number of websites that are down right now
obviously as the internet situation is hindering our own work,” he


Dhiraagu shares to sell on Maldives stock exchange

Local telecommunications provider Dhiraagu will sell shares to the public via the Maldives Stock Exchange (MSE) starting next Thursday.

Government shares have meanwhile been sold to all applicants.

Of its 11.4 million shares, Dhiraagu has sold 41 percent under the Initial Public Offering (IPO) at a rate of Rf80 (US$5.2). The IPO became effective on December 25, 2011.

The government lately released 48 percent of its shares, which had a value of approximately Rf376 million (US$24 million). Of those shares, 15 percent were set to be sold and 4.7 million have been sold, reports Haveeru.

Most government shares were purchased by the Pension Administration Office, the State Trading Organisation (STO) and Allied Insurance.

Foreign investors may also purchase Dhiraagu shares.


Wataniya and Dhiraagu “collude” against public interest: DRP Deputy Leader Ahmed Mohamed

Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ahmed Mohamed has claimed that changes made by telecommunication companies Dhiraagu and Wataniya are diluting market competition and damaging the public interest.

Both companies have upgraded their fair usage policies and increased the possible number of free texts per credit top-up from 20 to 50, effective January 1. They have also requested a tariff change due a hike in package prices.

“In the past, Dhiraagu had a monopoly. When Wataniya came in there was health competition in the country and phone charges decreased dramatically. But these recent actions, the fair usage policies and the change in tariffs, can be seen as colluding,” said Mohamed.

“I don’t know if there is a law against anti-competitive behavior in the market,” Mohamed explained, “but these colluding behaviors by the telecomm companies are not healthy for the general public.”

Mohamed said the government should act on any law which prohibits companies from colluding to reduce competition and drive up prices, or should create one to address such a situation.

Wataniya and Dhiraggu are the only two telecommunications companies in Maldives, and both introduced BlackBerry services to the Maldives this year.

CAM Deputy Director General Abdullah Pasha confirmed that CAM had approved tariffs for price changes, but said the authority did not regulate changes to free minutes “because it is used to manage excess capacity on their networks, and so it’s up to them.”

Pasha did not believe that the changes would hurt competition or impact the general public.

“Prices are going up in every sector right now, so this isn’t unusual,” he observed.

Officials at both telecommunications companies were unaware of Mohamed’s statement, and did not believe that there was cause for concern.

“Competition is one of the fundamental things of a strong, successful business. We definitely don’t engage in anything that would compromise market competition,” said Dhiraagu Marketing and PR executive Imjad Jaleel.

Jaleel said Dhiraagu has made several changes which bear similarities to upgrades made by Wataniya, but claimed that the coincidence was an effect of catering to the same population.

“After all we are talking about the Maldives market,” he said. Jaleel added that changes at Dhiraagu are always monitored by an outside party. “Dhiraagu must go through the Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) to make any changes, and we follow CAM’s advise and cooperate with its regulations. There is nothing we would do to damage competition, or have a negative impact on the general public.”

Wataniya’s Head of Marketing and Communications Aishath Zamra Zahir said the company was also “following the usual procedure with CAM, and [has] fulfilled all the licensing requirements.”

Zahir added that Wataniya’s changes have not tamed the market, but rather have maintained the company’s  competitive edge.

“We still offer the lowest IDD (international direct dialing) in the country,” she pointed out.

According to Wataniya‘s new fair usage policy, customers can receive up to 1000 free minutes when making calls from a free phone number.

Dhiraagu customers with post paid plans can now receive between 1000 and 5000 free minutes per month for calls with free numbers, according to their plan.

Jaleel pointed out that these revisions are not unique to the Maldives, but rather reflect “a trend that is happening everywhere in the world.”


Dhiraagu launches BlackBerry

Dhiraagu has officially launched BlackBerry services, and now offers customers three BlackBerry Smartphone plans, which can be added to postpaid plans.

At  a press  conference  held  at  Dhiraagu  today Director of Marketing Ahmed  Maumoon said,  “After  a  very  successful  soft‐launch  period  for  thorough  testing  of  the  BES
solution  with  different  customer  groups  we  are  delighted  to  unveil  Dhiraagu  BlackBerry Smartphone Plans with the largest network in the Maldives.”

Maumoon commented that the preliminary soft launch period was proof Dhiraagu’s attention to customer needs and preferences.

In September of this  year, competitor Wataniya launched BlackBerry service in the Maldives. Officials at the time considered it an important step for business in the country, given the service’s reputation for strong security.


Dhiraagu begins laying 1253 km of fibre optic cable

President Mohamed Nasheed inaugurated the cable laying of the Dhiraagu’s new fibre-optic submarine cable network in Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhufushi on Tuesday.

Dhiraagu described the US$21.7 million mega project signed with Japanese communications group NEC as the “back bone” of  Dhiraagu’s High-speed Network Rollout Program, aimed at expanding broadband service across the country.

NEC will be using its existing experience of working on the country’s cable system to lay 1253 kilometres of fibre optic submarine cable beneath the sea from the north to south, connecting the whole country.

According to Dhiraagu, the cable network will encompass  eight strategic locations including Kulhudhufushi (starting  point), Baa atoll Eydhafushi, Hulhumale’, Alif Dhaal atoll Dhangethi, Laamu atoll Gan, Gaaf Dhaal atoll Gahdhoo, Seenu atoll Hithadhoo and Fuvahmulah (ending point). Cable landing stations have been built.

“We are expecting to finish the cable laying process by the end of this month. Then we will continue testing the cable, connectivity and monitoring the traffic. We are hoping to complete the project by the second quarter of next year,” Dhiraagu’s Manager of Marketing Communications and Public Relations, Mohamed Mirshan Hassan, told Minivan News on Wednesday.

He highlighted that the project was a significant part of the Dhiraagu High-speed Network Rollout Program to expand broadband services, under which the company plans to enhance the microwave network, 3G service, wireless broadband services and upgrade the internet core network.

Dhiraagu plans to invest a total of about US$70 million on the project over the next five years.

According to Mirshan, the implementation of the project will mark a “new milestone” for the nation’s telecommunications.

“High-speed broadband internet service will facilitate services such as e-health, telemedicine, e-government and other online services in the country, which would bring immense socio-economic benefits,” said Mirshan. “Communication and connectivity is a prerequisite for the development of a nation,” he added.

He noted that online businesses and the tourism sector would benefit immensely from the project, as their online operations such as ticketing, bookings and payments would be become easier with the high speed network.

“The disparity in the services offered to remote islands will also be significantly reduced, allowing them to enjoy the same service packages currently offered in the capital Male’,” Mirshan added.

Speaking at the inauguration event on Tuesday, President  Nasheed said that the exchange of information was of extreme importance to national development.

The “slow speed of broadband internet in the country prevents full accessibility to telecommunications across the Maldives”, and often led to system failures, President said.

However, he believes Dhiraagu’s submarine cable project will bring significant improvements to the nation telecommunications, by “making the conveyance of information easier, better and speedier in the future”.


Dhiraagu re-registered as public limited company

Telecommunications company Dhiraagu has re-registered as a public limited company (Plc).

The company actively took the name Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun Plc, however it will continue to use the brand name Dhiraagu.

Dhiraagu is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the Maldives, along with Wataniya. It is also one of the country’s most profitable companies.

On 24 August this year, the Maldivian government revealed a plan to turn over one-third of its shares in Dhiraagu to the public. The sale was expected to generate Rf 1.46 billion (US$95 million).


Special Sports Festival to improve opportunities for disabled students

The first Maldives’ Special Sports Festival was held today at the Henveiru Football Ground, sponsored by Care Society and telecommunications company Dhiraagu.

The event is part of Dhiraagu Anniversary Celebrations.

Students from Care Development Center (CDC), Jamaluddheen School (JS), Imaadhudheen School (IS), and Maldives Deaf Association (MDA) are expected to participate in group relays and races. Officials anticipate welcoming 700 spectators to the event, scheduled for 4 to 6 pm today.

CDC was implemented by Care Society in 2001, and presently supports 51 disabled students directly to develop skills in communication, living, academics, crafts and behavioral issues.

CDC and Dhiraagu have designed the Special Sports Festival as an annual event to support the disabled community by fostering community awareness and integration.