North

Feds apologize after contractor knocks out internet in Yukon, Nunavut

A Whitehorse-based contractor was responsible for knocking out internet and some phone service in Yukon, Nunavut, and the N.W.T. for several hours on Monday.

Public works contractor accidentally severed fibre optic line on Monday

Northwestel's sole fibre optic line into Yukon was accidentally severed on Monday, leaving thousands of customers across the North with no internet and limited phone service for several hours. (CBC)

The federal government is pointing the finger at a Whitehorse-based contractor for knocking out internet and some phone service to thousands of customers across the North earlier this week.

The government is also apologizing for the incident.

Cobalt Construction accidentally severed Northwestel's fibre optic line into Yukon on Monday, while doing construction work for the government on the Alaska Highway in northern B.C.

That left customers in Yukon with no internet service for almost seven hours, and also affected some phone and internet service in Nunavut and the N.W.T.

The government says the contractor had been made aware of the location of the Northwestel cable, and the cable was also marked.

It was severed while workers cleared brush alongside the highway.

Some Whitehorse businesses say the outage cost them thousands of dollars in lost business on Monday. They're in favour of punitive measures against those responsible for cutting the line.

But Mike Sullivan, a lobbyist with the Canadian Common Ground Alliance, says he's not aware of any jurisdiction in Canada where fines are levied or penalties imposed for cutting fibre optic lines. 

He's pushing for federal legislation to protect underground infrastructure, saying that would make it possible to punish repeat offenders.

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