By Nick Theodoulou and George Psyllides
Mobile telephony connectivity problems in the Ayios Andreas area of Nicosia were caused by a jamming system being installed at the nearby central prison, the transport ministry said on Monday.
The ministry said in a statement that interference in the smooth operation of mobile phones in the area were caused by the jammer during installation testing.
“The system has not been put into operation because checks and adjustments were being performed by the company so that its operation will not cause interference in the surrounding areas,” the ministry said.
It added that authorities will not take delivery of the system before its smooth operation was ensured. The public will be notified of any tests until the official delivery of the system, the ministry said.
Theories swirled wildly over the weekend as to what was causing mobile phones in Ayios Andreas to lose their signal before it was finally solved on Monday afternoon.
Residents reported constant issues with trying to make calls on their mobile phones since Friday. Crackling, being disconnected and unable to make mobile phone calls at all, led residents to complain to the police and phone service providers.
Theories included that perhaps the telecommunications companies in the north had boosted their signal and drowned out those in the Ayios Andreas area, which at some parts touches the buffer zone. Others suspected that perhaps inmates at the central prison had erected an illegal signal tower to boost their mobile phone signals from behind bars.
The issue had gone undetected and unresolved since Friday evening when Cyta technicians first visited the neighbourhood and told residents that the systems were functioning correctly.
Ayios Andreas community leader Christodoulos Pasias told the Cyprus Mail on Monday morning before the problem was fixed that “no one has a clue what’s going on, Cyta is telling us there’s no problem at all, but our phones keep cutting out.”
He added that “We just hope that it’s an issue on our side that doesn’t involve the Turkish Cypriots otherwise the problem will be very difficult to solve.”
“On Saturday it kept happening and I was calling someone else in the neighbourhood and we kept getting disconnected,” one resident said. “I thought someone else was trying to call me or my phone was running out of battery.”