No ser­vice

Dam­age to Bell fi­bre net­works causes wide­spread out­ages across At­lantic Canada

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN ROSS

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.

RYAN ROSS/THE GUARDIAN

An­neliese Sur­mann uses the Wi-Fi con­nec­tion at Re­ceiver Cof­fee on her phone Fri­day dur­ing a wide­spread cell­phone ser­vice out­age.

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A sign alerts cus­tomers that “com­mu­ni­ca­tions is­sues” forced the Pro­vin­cial Credit Union on Univer­sity Av­enue in Char­lot­te­town Fri­day af­ter­noon.

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