“Significant land erosion” knocked out internet services for 12 hours for people, businesses and organizations across the Yukon, northern British Columbia and the Northwest Territories on July 6, according to a spokesperson for Northwestel.
Andrew Anderson said by email July 7 the mass disruption was caused by the land erosion damaging a fibre optic cable along the Alaska Highway in the north part of British Columbia.
Anderson confirmed the internet went down at approximately 8:30 a.m. He did not say how many customers lost service as a result of the territory-wide outage.
He said some individual customers in N.W.T. were affected.
Phone and cellular services were not impacted, he said.
The company’s technicians travelled to the site of the damaged cable and were able to repair it and restore the internet at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Anderson said Northwestel is continuing “to work to support the Yukon government’s Dempster fibre project that will bring another fibre route into the Yukon.”
Some cell phone customers in the Yukon also reported difficulties calling landlines, including emergency services, on July 6 and 7.
Kisa Elmer, a Whitehorse resident, said she first encountered the difficulty reaching emergency services when she attempted to call the RCMP non-emergency number on July 6, the morning after she had witnessed people breaking into cars in her neighbourhood.
She was met with a busy signal and the call didn’t go through. Subsequent attempts throughout the day didn’t succeed. Hoping to report the problem with the phone lines, she says she called 9-1-1 after hours. The call to the emergency number also failed to go through.
She said a friend in Calgary was able to get through to the Whitehorse RCMP’s phones but another of her friends who lives locally, as well as an ambulance paramedic who she flagged down to report the problems, could not successfully call 9-1-1 from their cell phones.
Elmer said the trouble calling land lines and reaching 9-1-1 persisted into July 7. She added that she spent time on the phone with her cell phone provider, Telus, who tried some fixes including restarting her phone but to no avail.
Elmer said she feels people should be aware of a possible loss of their link to emergency services, noting that she chose to stay home from a long bike ride with friends in order to be their emergency contact after they found that their phone also couldn’t reach the emergency phone line.
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