Equipment failure paralyzes Tuvalu radio

In the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands), Pusinelli Laafai is unhappy. Although he is the manager of Radio Tuvalu, Laafai is powerless to restore his country’s one-year-old FM network, which went off the air due to equipment failure at eight remote transmitter sites. 

“When we first switched from AM to satellite FM everyone was very happy with the quality,” said Laafai. “Then it all fell apart.”

At each transmitter site, the story is the same. A power supply module in the broadcast downlink receiver overheated in the tropical conditions. Even though the fault was identified before the project was completed in September last year, it still has not been fixed. 

The problem is not entirely technical, however. Geographic isolation, poor communication, and a lack of accountability have also played a part.

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