Road crew digs the internet

An Alberta company apparently doesn't know to phone before they dig. Road contractor Richardson Bros. Ltd.

An Alberta company apparently doesn’t know to phone before they dig.

Road contractor Richardson Bros. Ltd. severed the territory’s sole internet connection twice this week.

Yukoners were virtually cutoff from the world on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. due to the company’s actions.

There was no Bell cellphone service.

The internet connection was sluggish.

Latitude Wireless data services was down.

And most long-distance telephone calls to the south were severed.

It was the second collapse of the territory’s information systems this week.

On Monday, the same road crew cut through another stretch of the fibre-optic cable.

Northwestel was not aware of the trouble when the Yukon News called around 2:45 p.m. Monday.

Later that evening, the telco confirmed a road crew working in northern Alberta had damaged the line,

A temporary splice was installed; service was restored around 6 p.m. and no further disruptions are expected after permanent repairs are made to the cable later this week, said Anne Kennedy, spokesperson for Northwestel.

Then Richardson Bros. Ltd., of Olds, Alberta, went back to work and cut the fibre-optic cable again.

“We are questioning the practices that the construction company is following, if proper cable location was obtained and how to prevent future occurrences while the highway construction work continues,” Northwestel said in a news release.

Both outages hurt local businesses, making debit machines slow and unreliable.

Service went out around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and most services were restored just before 2 p.m.

The construction company installed a splice in the damaged cable late Tuesday afternoon.

The outages affected people in the Yukon, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

Officials from Richardson Bros. refused comment. (Larissa Robyn Johnston)