North

Communication services restored after fibre line damage: Northwestel

Internet, phone and television services have been restored across the North, after a damaged fibre cable in northern B.C. caused a widespread disruption on Wednesday afternoon. 

Northwestel says fibre cable was damaged in area where road construction was happening

The outage affected internet, long-distance phone and television services in Yukon and parts of northern B.C. (CBC)

Internet, phone and television services have been restored across the North, after a damaged fibre cable in northern B.C. caused a widespread disruption on Wednesday afternoon. 

"Northwestel technicians travelled to the impacted area and were able to conduct repairs and restore the connection early this morning," reads a statement from Northwestel on Thursday morning. 

"We continue to work to test our systems and ensure all services are restored."

Northwestel says the line was damaged in a remote part of north of Fort Nelson, B.C., where road construction was happening. The service was cut at about 2:30 p.m. PT on Thursday.

The outage affected internet, long-distance phone and television services in Yukon and parts of northern B.C. Long-distance phone services were also affected in N.W.T. and Nunavut.

911 service was also down in many parts of the North.

Northwestel spokesperson Andrew Anderson said Thursday morning that the outage lasted a little over 12 hours.

"It looks like it's related to some construction that was taking place in the area. You know, our focus up till now has been restoring service, so we'll continue to look into what specifically caused this," Anderson said. 

The fibre line to Yukon 'can be impacted by construction or by environmental events like landslides and whatnot. And that's a reality of the network in northern Canada,' said Northwestel spokesperson Andrew Anderson. (CBC)

The damaged cable is the sole broadband connection between Yukon and the rest of Canada. It's been cut before, causing widespread outages. 

"What we've seen is occasionally that fibre can be impacted by construction or by environmental events like landslides and whatnot. And that's a reality of the network in northern Canada," Anderson said.

Anderson says there was limited broadband capacity through a microwave network, and so people could make some phone calls or access some data on their phones. 

"Certainly today we'll be focusing on working with our partners in the government to determine what exactly was working, what wasn't. And, you know, any steps that we need to take," Anderson said. 

On May 7, ROHL Global Networks, in partnership with Dagoo Services, was awarded the construction of the Dempster fibre line, which will span 800 km from Dawson City, Yukon, to Inuvik, N.W.T. 

Richard Mostyn, Yukon's minister of Community Services, told CBC on Thursday that construction of the new fibre optic line is scheduled to begin this year.

"I have every confidence it's going to begin this year, and should be built within the next two years, two and a half years," he said.

with files from Elyn Jones

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