British Columbia

Dismay, frustration during weekend of phone-service disruption across B.C.

People, companies and municipalities across B.C. are expressing alarm and frustration as phone service disruptions continue across the province for a second day. 

Wet weather throughout January caused landslides and mudslides that damaged infrastructure across the province

Cellphones and landlines with some telecom providers across B.C. have been experiencing problems since Saturday afternoon. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

UPDATE — Feb. 3, 2020: Bell and Rogers communications staff say their services have now been restored. 

Bell Mobility and Virgin Mobile services were back to normal by Sunday at 10 p.m. PT, a Bell spokesperson said.

Data wireless service for Rogers customers was restored Saturday shortly after the landslides affected fibre lines, but some customers experienced problems making or receiving calls from other providers, according to an email from a company spokesperson.


EARLIER:

People, companies and municipalities across B.C. are expressing alarm and frustration as phone service disruptions continue across the province for a second day. 

Many have complained that telecom providers are providing little, if any, information about the full extent of service disruptions and when they might be over. 

A very rainy January recently caused mud and landslides that damaged infrastructure across the province. Most telecom customers began experiencing issues early Saturday afternoon.

Bell said a third-party's fibre line near North Bend, B.C., was damaged Saturday. As a result, some of its customers can't call or receive calls from people on other networks. 

By Sunday afternoon, Telus said on Twitter that it had "identified an issue impacting inter-carrier calls." But some Telus customers said they didn't even have a dial tone from their land lines.

Rogers Communications said a landslide damaged a fibre cable and caused the outage. It said calls between Rogers customers weren't affected, but Rogers customers may have issues reaching people on other networks.

The telecom company's internet services, which it provides for businesses, were also affected. Rogers said it is working to restore those services as soon as possible. 

It's not clear how many people are affected by the service disruptions, or if people are even aware of them. Bell said text messaging and mobile data are still available. 

Municipalities and services that rely on phone service to interact with residents said the disruptions affected their ability to connect with people over the weekend. 

Businesses that rely on phone service also complained about the outages.

B.C. RCMP said the issue was affecting non-emergency lines at several detachments, although the problem was not expected to affect 911 calls.

Kelowna, B.C., resident Barb Teichreb was shocked on Saturday when she wasn't able to get through to any emergency services in her community. 

Teichreb said she called 911 after she heard a loud alarm going off in the mobile home park where she lives. She got through to the dispatcher, but she said they didn't know where Kelowna is or how to spell it. 

The fibre cut that disrupted phone services also severed Bell's direct connections to 911 call centres in Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George, the company confirmed to CBC News in an email. 

Emergency calls in those areas are being answered at a customer service centre and redirected to the relevant 911 call centres, according to Bell. 

When Teichreb hung up and tried calling local RCMP offices and fire departments, she wasn't able to get through to any of them.

"If this would have been an emergency I would have died," she said. "I felt completely, totally useless."

E-Comm 9-1-1, which manages 911 calls in B.C., said the call wasn't put through to them, meaning the carrier likely put it through to the wrong place. 

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.