Cut cable disrupts cellphones

Cellphones conked out this morning across the Yukon. The outage, which started around 8 a.m., was caused by a severed fibre-optic cable in Grande Prairie, Alberta, said Anne Kennedy, spokesperson for Northwestel.

Cellphones conked out this morning across the Yukon.

The outage, which started around 8 a.m., was caused by a severed fibre-optic cable in Grande Prairie, Alberta, said Anne Kennedy, spokesperson for Northwestel.

By press time, it was not clear when service would be restored.

Some toll-free calling was also affected by the fibre cut.

The severed cable, which is leased from Bell by Northwestel, forms part of the data pipeline that connects the territory’s telephone service to the Outside.

Northwestel’s service area ends outside Fort St. John, BC. From there, data is beamed along leased fibre-optic line to Edmonton.

Cellphone service in the Yukon was disrupted three times this summer by severed fibre-optic links. Two were caused by botched construction digs. The third was caused by a forest fire.

The cause of the severed cable in Grande Prairie remains unclear.

The repair of optical cable is finicky, time-consuming business. The technology uses fine strands of glass or plastic to transmit light over long distances, at speeds and volumes far greater than conventional metal cable. But any break to the line requires precise splicing for it to work again.(John Thompson)