Cut fibre line disrupts Internet, cellular services across North

Internet, cellular, TV, long-distance and 1-800 services were disrupted in the Yukon, the Mackenzie Delta and Nunavut today after a construction crew accidentally cut the fibre-optic line

Internet, cellular, TV, long-distance and 1-800 services were disrupted in the Yukon, the Mackenzie Delta and Nunavut today after a construction crew accidentally cut the fibre-optic line along the Alaska Highway between Liard Hot Springs and Muncho Lake in northeastern British Columbia.

At 3 p.m., Joel Witten, Northwestel’s director of product management, said a helicopter crew was on location to splice the fibre line, and services should be back up before the end of the business day.

In the meantime, customers can make some calls and use the Internet over a redundant radio network, but connections are slow and intermittent.

“Text and voice would be more likely to go through, and data would be severely congested,” Witten said.

Credit and debit card readers that use cellular connections may also not be working properly.

Witten said the line was cut by a third-party construction crew. “Folks should call before they dig,” he said. “It certainly was surprising to us.”

The Yukon government, the City of Whitehorse and the RCMP are asking people to keep trying if their calls to 911 or other emergency numbers don’t go through right away. They also suggest sending someone to the nearest City of Whitehorse fire hall or RCMP detachment to report the emergency at the same time.

The Yukon Party also used the opportunity to promote its plans to build a redundant fibre-optic line up the Dempster Highway that would connect to a similar line being built up the Mackenzie Valley in the Northwest Territories.

“Today’s outage once again demonstrates the critical need for fibre redundancy in Yukon,” Premier Darrell Pasloski said in a statement. “We have been working with Canada to determine how we can partner on this project.”

This year’s budget includes $500,000 for planning and consultations for the fibre-optic project. But construction is not slated to start before this year’s territorial election.

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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