More than 17,000 CityWest customers across Northwest B.C. were affected by the communication outage on June 7, which left Prince Rupert without many essential services.
The communication lull, which lasted more than eight hours, was blamed on a broken fibre optic cable near Vanderhoof. The technical disruption severed television cable, telephone, cell service, and internet in many regions.
Prince Rupert may have been the worst affected with loss of banking, shopping and daily business as CityWest, a corporation owned by the City of Prince Rupert, has a monopoly on cable television, landline phones and internet services to the city. Both residential and commercial customers were affected during the outage.
“All customers were impacted in our service area. Multiple service providers reported outages for their Internet, TV, phone, and mobility services from Vanderhoof west to Haida Gwaii,” Ryan Ray, director of Inside Plant at CityWest told The Northern View in an email on June 9.
“The disruption was caused by a broken fibre cable that supported multiple service providers. The broken cable was fixed last night (June 8) by repair crews that spliced the cable back together,” Ray said.
Ray explained that CityWest has redundancy in parts of their network to be able to provide an alternate link if the fibre cable is damaged.
“However, west of Prince George, multiple service providers all rely on the same infrastructure. If that link is damaged or broken, all of these providers will lose services,” he said adding this is why the Connected Coast project is so important.
“It will provide a redundant network for the North, something this region has never had before.”
In a press release issued on June 8, Tanya Jenkins, vice president of people and markets at CityWest offered apologies to customers for the service disruption and explained the situation in some detail.
“Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) have historically shared poles above ground to connect wires. When one of those poles is affected as a result of an unforeseen or tragic event such as an accident, inclement weather conditions, or conditions caused by Mother Nature, we often face challenges to repair the damages and restore services. Through our Connected Coast subsea project, we will continue to remove these possible unforeseen conditions.”
Jenkins explained that currently, most of Northern BC relies on one fibre path for all Internet traffic. If that path is damaged, several communities can lose all connectivity, like in Prince Rupert.
“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.”
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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