Communication services restored after damaged fiber line

Internet, phone and television services have been restored across the North after a damaged fiber-optic cable in northern British Columbia caused widespread disruption on Wednesday afternoon.

“Northwestel technicians traveled to the affected area and were able to perform repairs and re-establish the connection early this morning,” a statement from Northwestel read Thursday morning.

“We continue to work to test our systems and make sure all services are restored.”

Northwestel says the line was damaged in a remote area north of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, where road construction was underway. Service was discontinued Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m. PT.

The outage affected Internet, long distance telephone and television services in the Yukon and parts of northern British Columbia. Long distance telephone services were also affected in the NWT and Nunavut.

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

Northwestel spokesman Andrew Anderson said Thursday morning that the outage lasted just over 12 hours.

“It appears to be related to construction work going on in the area. You know, so far we’ve been focused on restoring service, so we’re going to continue to look at what specifically caused this,” Anderson said.

The fiber line to the Yukon can be affected by construction or by environmental events like landslides and the like. And that’s a reality of the grid in northern Canada, ”said Northwestel spokesperson Andrew Anderson. (CBC)

The damaged cable is the only broadband connection between the Yukon and the rest of Canada. It has already been cut, causing widespread blackouts.

“What we’ve seen is sometimes that the fiber can be affected by construction or by environmental events like landslides and the like. And that’s a reality of the grid in northern Canada,” said Anderson.

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

“Certainly today we’re going to focus on working with our partners in government to figure out what exactly was working, what was not working. And, you know, all the steps we need to take,” Anderson said.

On May 7, ROHL Global Networks, in partnership with Dagoo Services, was entrusted with the construction of the Dempster fiber line, which will stretch 800 km from Dawson City, Yukon, to Inuvik, NWT.

Richard Mostyn, Minister of Community Services for the Yukon, told CBC on Thursday that construction of the new fiber optic line was scheduled to begin this year.

“I am convinced that it will start this year, and should be built in the next two years, two and a half years,” he said.

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