Kyiv, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – As part of Ukraine’s efforts to keep communication lines open during the war, an army of engineers from the country’s phone companies has been mobilized to help people and rulers stay connected. . Drone strikes.
Often hidden in quiet times, engineers work tirelessly to maintain or restore phone service, sometimes facing minefields. After a campaign of Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure that knocked out power to cell phone towers, they turned to generators to keep them going.
“I know that our people, my colleagues, are very tired, but they are motivated by the fact that we are doing something important,” said Yuri Dagnyst, an engineer with the Ukrainian telecommunications company Kyivstar. (half a foot) to reach a closed cell phone tower on the western edge of Kyiv, the capital.
DuGrist and his colleagues offer a glimpse of their new daily routine, which now involves using an app on their own phones to monitor which of the dozens of cell towers in the capital region have lost power. , either as part of a scheduled outage to save power, or because one of the generators providing backup power fails or fails to start.
A note clearly stated, in English, “Kum Fuel” (little fuel).
Stopping at a gas station before their round, team members filled eight 20-litre (5.3-gallon) drums of diesel for a massive tank located beneath the generator, which powers a 50-metre (160-metre) cell phone tower. Provides strength. ft) in a suburban town that has been without power for several days.
It is one of several Ukrainian cities with intermittent or no power in the wake of several rounds of devastating Russian attacks in recent weeks on the country’s infrastructure, particularly power plants.
Kyivstar is the largest of Ukraine’s three main mobile phone companies, with about 26 million subscribers, or the equivalent of about two-thirds of the country’s population before the Russian invasion on 24 February. Only many people have returned since.
Diesel generators were installed at the bottom of cell phone towers long before the invasion, but they were rarely needed. Several Western countries have offered similar generators and transformers to help Ukraine as much as possible to keep its power grid running after Russia’s shelling.
Dugrist said that after an emergency blackout triggered by a round of Russian attacks on 23 November, Kyivstar deployed 15 teams of engineers and called in “all our reserves” to troubleshoot the 2,500 mobile stations in its service area. .
He recalled running to the site of a destroyed cell tower earlier this year after Russian forces withdrew from Irpin, a northwestern suburb of Kyiv. They got there before Ukraine’s minesweepers, to advise that all was well.
According to reports, the war’s pressure on Ukraine’s mobile phone network has pushed up the prices of cell phone alternatives, such as Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite service, which was used by Ukraine’s own military during the war. Its tenth month.
Following widespread attacks on infrastructure in recent weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on top officials to discuss restoration work and supplies needed to protect the country’s power and communications systems.
“We must pay special attention to the communication system,” he declared. Whatever Russia has in mind, he said, “we must maintain communication.”