Damage to Bell fibre networks causes widespread outages across Atlantic Canada
When Sue Gallant couldn’t take money out to buy gas, she didn’t know how she was going to get home.
That was the problem the Rustico woman was facing Friday afternoon as she sat in her van parked outside the Provincial Credit Union in Charlottetown, which was closed because of a phone network outage.
“I have no access to my money,” she said.
Earlier in the day, cellphone service for Bell, Telus, Virgin Mobile and Koodo went down leaving thousands of customers in Atlantic Canada unable to connect to their networks for several hours.
The issue also affected landline and FibreOp services for Bell customers in the region.
A statement from Bell Aliant said accidental damage to multiple fibre networks caused the outage.
During the outage, the provincial government reminded Islanders they were still able to call 911 for emergencies.
Any 911 calls made using cellphones would connect through the Rogers cellular network.
The outage also caused two flight delays at the Charlottetown Airport.
Along with keeping people from placing calls or sending text messages, the service disruption caused problems with some financial institutions, like the credit union.
Some businesses, as Gallant learned, weren’t able to accept payments using debit cards during the outage.
At the credit union, the doors were shut to the public and a steady stream of customers was met with signs that said it was closed temporarily due to “communications issues.”
Gallant said she tried to use her debit card to buy gas, but it didn’t work because of the outage.
She was told to try her bank, Gallant said, but that didn’t work either.
Gallant said a day like Friday was a reminder that it might be a good idea to rely less on digital services.
“We’re totally dependent on it,” she said.
Anneliese Surmann was on a flight to P.E.I. from Toronto for her vacation when the services went down.
After she landed, it was frustrating not being able to let people know she arrived safe, Surmann said
“It’s just an inconvenience for everybody.”
As Surmann sat waiting for her lunch at a restaurant on Charlottetown’s Victoria Row, she was able to connect to the Internet on her phone thanks to its Wi-Fi connection.
Surmann said it’s a little unfortunate how much people have come to rely on their cellphones.
“It’s kind of like chickens running around with their heads cut off,” she said.
Anneliese Surmann uses the Wi-Fi connection at Receiver Coffee on her phone Friday during a widespread cellphone service outage.
A sign alerts customers that “communications issues” forced the Provincial Credit Union on University Avenue in Charlottetown Friday afternoon.