Nfld. & Labrador

Experts raise concern over latest network outage in Atlantic Canada

Bell says last Friday's outage, which wiped out cell service across the four Atlantic provinces, was caused by an accident related to construction. That has some experts worried.

One expert says the CRTC needs to consider backup plans

People had to be manually checked in at the Air Canada counter at St. John's International Airport, amid a service outage Friday afternoon. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Last Friday's Bell Aliant outages in many parts of Atlantic Canada has dialed up concerns among experts about the security of the region's telecommunications system.

Eamon Hoey, a management consultant in Toronto who has worked in the field for over four decades, says the breakdown of Bell's system due to multiple cuts in crucial fibre optic links raises questions about whether there is sufficient backup.

The breakdown affected emergency services in many parts of the region, caused widespread cellular telephone outages on Telus, Bell, Virgin and Koodo, and also interrupted internet and land line services for over three hours, beginning late in Friday morning.

System too reliant on Bell

In 2011, a cut in a Bell fibre optic line in northern New Brunswick led to service outages through many parts of that province, also for about three hours.

Hoey says the region's system is heavily reliant on Bell's fibre optic system, and it's time for the CRTC to consider the need for more backup options, and to start collecting and posting detailed information on all similar outages around the country.

Bell (TSX:BCE) has issued a short statement saying only that it is investigating "an extraordinary situation" and that there were multiple breaks in the system caused by a third party contractor. The company has declined to provide an official for an interview.