Service restored after North Shore towns lose internet and cell reception

Towns between Port-Cartier and Natashquan were without cell service, internet and banking services during the 12-hour outage.

Truck collision caused major break in the region's only fiber optic cable

The freight trained derailed 20 kilometres north of Sept-Îles, Que. (Google Maps)

Most of Quebec's North Shore was without internet and cell service for more than 12 hours after a truck hit two Hydro-Québec poles late Thursday night, severing the region's only fiber optic cable.

The outage extended from Port-Cartier to Natashquan.

Telus has installed a temporary solution to re-route the signal and restore service while it fixes the existing fiber optic cable, for which there is no backup. 

General manager for Sept-Îles, Patrick Gwilliam, said banks were asked to stay open late so people could withdraw cash, because cards did not work.

Most residents rely on cell service

The town manager said about 60 per cent of people along the North Shore rely on cell phones and do not have landlines.

"There are a lot of people that, if an emergency happens, they don't have any other means to contact 911 or emergency services," he said. "That's our biggest problem that we have right now, and there are not many solutions to that."

He said the system was "fragile," adding that once, a service outage was caused by a beaver severing the line. 

Radio transmitters still worked

Radio transmitters were still functioning during the outage, and first responders are on an analog system so they're able to communicate, Gwilliam said.

"That's the good thing about old technology sometimes," he said.

He added that businesses in Sept-Îles stayed open, even without people being able to pay for things with cards.

The truck collision happened near Baie-Trinité, and knocked out service to all the towns east of that.

With files from CBC's Julia Page


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