By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, Pacific Daily News

A break in an undersea cable has disconnected the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands phone, Internet, banking and other communications with Guam and the rest of the world.

The outage also means credit-card purchases, withdrawing money from ATMs, teleconferencing for health care, and all other communications that go through the CNMI’s only fiber-optic cable connection to the outside world have gone dark, telecommunication company IT&E confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

Until a backup system is in place, the only way to call Saipan is through a few satellite phones, including one at IT&E’s Saipan office and at certain government agencies, the company confirmed.

“In Saipan, there is no connectivity at all,” said James Oehlerking, chief executive officer of Pacific Telecom Inc.

PTI is the parent of IT&E, which invested $14 million in 1997 to lay an undersea fiber-optic cable that links the CNMI and Guam, and from Guam to an undersea cable across the Pacific.

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