Subject: East Timor: Portugal Telecom rushing to meet March 1 launch deadline

07-02-2003 12:39:00. Notícia nº SIR-4641950

East Timor: Portugal Telecom rushing to meet March 1 launch deadline

Dili, Feb. 7 (Lusa) - Portugal Telecom is preparing the urgent replacement of vital equipment lost in a recent plane crash to meet the March 1 deadline to launch East Timor's new telecommunications network, the head of Timor Telecom told Lusa Friday.

"We are doing everything possible to maintain the March 1 date, but I can't give a 100 percent guarantee today that it will be met", José Jardim said in Dili.

The country's current telecoms operator, Australia's Telstra, is to suspend its services at midnight Feb. 28.

The head of Timor Telecom, a subsidiary of the consortium led by PT, said hundreds of thousands of dollars of "essential equipment" were lost when an Ilyushin-76 cargo plane crashed and burned when attempting to land in heavy fog at Baucau airport Jan. 31.

Jardim said that portions of the telecommunications system were up and functioning but that the crash had delayed installation of key equipment to integrate the system for fixed and cell telephones and Internet services.

About USD 8 million has already been invested in Timor Telecom, with an additional USD 22 million in the pipeline over the next 15 months.


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