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Internet/cell service back after vehicle crash knocks out much of B.C.’s Northwest

Customers from Hazelton to Haida Gwaii without service throughout Tuesday evening
Communities in northwest B.C. experienced a network outage after a motor accident caused a break in the Telus fibre optic cable on Oct. 18. (Photo: Google maps)

Some residents in northwest B.C. were without internet, television and phone service the evening of Oct. 18.

A single vehicle accident involving a truck knocked down several telephone and hydro poles, cutting the Telus fibre optic cable that runs west from Prince George to Prince Rupert, a spokesperson for Telus stated.

“Our crews located the damage 72 kilometers north of Terrace and worked throughout the night to bring in replacement poles and repair the damaged fibre lines to fully restore service by 6 a.m. (on Oct. 19),” the Telus spokesperson stated.

While Telus wrote that the disruptions impacted customers throughout Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert, residents from Granisle to Haida Gwaii have said they were without internet.

CityWest, the utilities company owned by the City of Prince Rupert, relies on the Telus fibre optic line, as do most telecommunications companies in the region.

“We tried to work with the Internet service provider that manages those poles on our behalf (and other Internet service providers) to try to restore service as quickly as possible. But the accident was extensive and it took time for the repair to occur,” Tanya Jenkins, vice president at CityWest stated in a press release on Oct. 19.

E-Comm 9-1-1 took to social media to advise northerners facing life-threatening emergencies to dial 911 in case service is available and otherwise to go to the doctor, police or fire department if able.

All services were back to normal by the morning of Oct. 19.

Earlier this year, on June 7, a tree felled by a beaver damaged the same fibre optics cable and left residents from west of Prince George to the coast without internet, landline or cellular service for over eight hours.

Communities in the northwest are vulnerable to these types of outages because they all depend on the same cable.

However, this is likely to change as a result of the Connected Coast project, CityWest stated.

Connected Coast, managed by a partnership between CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District, is laying down a fibre optic cable from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, along the sea floor.

As of Sept. 29, the $45 million project was one-third complete, with just under 1,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable laid.

“The Connected Coast will provide the North with another path for online traffic, so it can be rerouted if a link is damaged. After completion, many communities in the North and along the coast will have a redundant connection, providing more reliable services,” CityWest stated.

Black Press Media reached out Drive BC for more information on the motor vehicle accident and Telus for further comment.

READ MORE: Beaver takes down tree and Northwest B.C. phone and internet service

Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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