Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bell Aliant Says Double Cable Cut That Led to Cell Outages Was 'Perfect Storm'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bell Aliant Says Double Cable Cut That Led to Cell Outages Was 'Perfect Storm'

Article excerpt

Bell Aliant says outage was 'perfect storm'

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HALIFAX - Bell Aliant says a widespread outage of its East Coast telecommunications network this month was the result of a "perfect storm" involving construction crews not checking where to dig.

The Aug. 4 breakdown affected emergency services in many parts of the region, caused widespread cellular outages on Bell, Telus, Virgin and Koodo, and also interrupted internet and some land line services for about four hours.

Bell spokesman Nathan Gibson says the first cut was by a highway construction crew near Drummondville, Que.

He says service wasn't impacted in any significant way because of redundancy in the network until a second major cut near Richibucto, N.B., by a logging company in a densely forested location.

He says the second cut was difficult to access and took some time to locate precisely, and the site's inaccessibility slowed the arrival of heavy equipment and repair crews.

"I'd note again the unique and perfect storm nature of this situation: cuts to two major fibre routes one after the other, and one in a location (New Brunswick) that was exceptionally difficult to locate and repair," he said.

The spokesman says in an email the armoured cables are deeply buried but cuts can occur when third parties using backhoes don't properly follow Bell's location guides "or simply go ahead with their work without asking" for locations.

"We manage literally hundreds of thousands of construction requests for fibre locates across Canada each year, yet construction cuts continue to rival severe weather as the primary reason for service outages," he wrote.

Some telecommunications consultants have argued that the outage raised questions about the security of a network the region relies on heavily after several major outages in a six-year period.

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

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