Northwestel says it’s working to improve cell service, which could help address concerns over emergency communications during service outages. (Yukon News file)

Yukon communities call for better emergency communications

AYC says Yukoners deserve “reliable phone and broadband service”

Northwestel says it’s working to improve cell service following concerns over emergency communications during service outages.

On July 22, the Association of Yukon Communities issued a statement calling on the telecommunications provider to offer better emergency communications services in light of a July 11 outage that saw most phone and internet services disrupted for seven hours.

The outage was caused by a landslide in northern B.C. which damaged a fibre line.

While local landline services and some cable TV channels remained available throughout the outage, other services including long-distance landline, cellular service, many cable TV channels and internet remained out, which meant a loss of emergency communication for those without a landline.

As AYC pointed out there were also no updates provided to the public about the situation.

In its statement AYC noted: “When an emergency strikes it is critical that Yukoners are able to access 911 services to reach those that can help. The breadth and duration of the service outage coupled with the lack of back up communication is particularly troubling.

“The outage affected thousands of people across the territory. Yukoners expect and deserve reliable phone and broadband service — especially the ability to call 911, and, at a minimum, an understanding of the scale of the outage.”

Northwestel spokesman Andrew Anderson acknowledged the concerns of AYC, highlighting both long- and short-term efforts for improvements.

Anderson also said that when the outage happened, Northwestel followed emergency protocols and immediately sent out a repair team, was in contact with Yukon Emergency Services and the Yukon RCMP and provided details to local radio stations all within an hour of the disruption.

“In the short term, Northwestel has taken steps to introduce stronger cellular resiliency through our microwave transmission tower,” Anderson said in an email. “While this network has lower capacity than the fibre line, our goal is to provide cellular voice service in the event of a fibre disruption.”

He did not respond follow up questions about what exact steps have been taken to improve service through the microwave towers.

Looking ahead long-term, Anderson highlighted the Yukon government’s plans to build a redundant fibre line along the Dempster Highway. Construction is slated to take until 2025.

“As part of the project, Northwestel will contribute $15 million to the construction of the line, and provide operations and maintenance on the line for a period of 20 years.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Emergency PreparednessInternet and Telecom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

U Kon Echelon hosts Tour de Haines Junction

U Kon Echelon continued its busy schedule with the Tour de Haines… Continue reading

Melted beeswax, community pottery take centre stage at Arts Underground’s August shows

Two new, and very different, shows will be opening at Whitehorse’s Arts… Continue reading

Northern First Nations call for a major overhaul of mining legislation

The Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwitchin Governments say change is long overdue

Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee recommends First Nations take ‘additional measures’ to conserve Chinook

Recommendation comes as Chinook run on the Yukon River appears unlikely to meet spawning goals

Students prepare for online learning as Yukon University announces fall semester

The school plans to support students who may struggle with remote learning

Changes to federal infrastructure funds allow for COVID-19 flexibility

Announcement allows for rapid COVID-19 projects and expands energy programs to Whitehorse

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

C/TFN announces Montana Mountain reopening plan

Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Carcross/Tagish Management Corporation announced the partial reopening… Continue reading

Roberta Joseph reelected as Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in chief

Unofficial results show Joseph with more than double the votes of runner-up

Development incentives considered for three projects

Projects will add 24 rental units to the market

Delegate calls for crosswalk changes to show support for people of colour

Mayor states support for idea, but cautions it could take some time

Whitehorse advises of water system maintenance

Residents on the city’s water system are being advised they may notice… Continue reading

Walkway, signs planned for West Dawson paddlewheel graveyard

Unofficial attraction may get 135-m walkway and interpretive signs, if YESAB application approved

Most Read