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Phones stopped work­ing, banks had to close, what else?

Tri-County Vanguard - - FRONT PAGE - NEWS­ROOM STAFF

Last Fri­day’s cell net­work dis­rup­tion caught peo­ple off guard.

One minute peo­ple were send­ing texts and mak­ing phone calls. The next they were left won­der­ing what was go­ing on.

Last Fri­day’s At­lantic Canada cell net­work out­age took many by sur­prise. And its reach went be­yond just cell­phones or any one ser­vice provider.

Lan­d­line phone ser­vice was hit or miss. Some ar­eas and busi­nesses ex­pe­ri­enced com­puter dis­rup­tions. Flights at air­ports were de­layed or can­celled. And the list went on. On Face­book – ah, yes, we still had so­cial me­dia – peo­ple sur­mised about what had caused the out­age. So­lar flares or a pos­si­ble hack were among the the­o­ries be­ing thrown around.

The of­fi­cial word from Bell was that the out­age had been caused by third-party con­struc­tion work in which two ma­jor fi­bre links were cut. In a state­ment, Telus said a cut ca­ble was the cul­prit.

The out­age lasted sev­eral hours and did cre­ate in­con­ve­nience and con­cern.

Peo­ple who wor­ried that 911 would not be ac­ces­si­ble were call­ing it in such large num­bers to test it out that the po­lice had to re­mind peo­ple not to call 911 un­less it was an emer­gency.

The out­age caused other is­sues for first re­spon­ders. Not only were cel­lu­lar net­works dis­rupted, but the sys­tem emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel use to reach one an­other – a sys­tem called Trunk Mo­bile Ra­dio two or TMR2 – wasn’t avail­able.

Mike Shand of the Shel­burne Fire Depart­ment said fire­fight­ers were stand­ing by at the Shel­burne depart­ment last Fri­day just as a pre­cau­tion.

“We can still com­mu­ni­cate with VHF ra­dios within the depart­ment but can’t com­mu­ni­cate with other depart­ments with the TMR,” he said.

Bank­ing ser­vices were an­other area im­pacted. A quick tour of banks on Main Street in Yar­mouth around 1:45 p.m. on Aug. 4 found two banks closed: Bank of Mon­treal and CIBC (although the CIBC was closed due to its prox­im­ity to a build­ing be­ing ex­am­ined for struc­tural sta­bil­ity).

The Toronto Do­min­ion Bank had an em­ployee sta­tioned at the door al­low­ing en­try on a client-by-client ba­sis with lim­ited with­drawals per­mit­ted. Clients were also en­cour­aged to turn to on­line bank­ing where bill pay­ments and the trans- fer of funds could be per­formed.

At Coastal Fi­nan­cial Credit Union the ATM was not work­ing, but a kiosk in­side the bank was us­ing Eastlink ser­vice and clients could print off their in­for­ma­tion and with­draw funds from counter at­ten­dants.

Sco­tia­bank was cash­ing cheques for clients and cus­tomers that were known to staff. There was no ATM ser­vice and clients could not with­draw funds through counter ser­vice.

At the Royal Bank clients were ser­viced one cus­tomer at a time. ATM ser­vice was avail­able in the en­try­way, which was packed with peo­ple.

The Nova Scotia Health Author­ity, mean­while, tweeted out that op­er­a­tions were con­tin­u­ing as nor- mal dur­ing the cel­lu­lar ser­vice out­age. The health author­ity was also en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to check in on their neigh­bours who had health is­sues.

In some parts of the prov­ince peo­ple were told that if they needed emer­gency as­sis­tance and their phones weren’t work­ing to go to their near­est fire depart­ment.

Mean­while, oth­ers took the out­ages in stride, say­ing it meant peo­ple would ac­tu­ally have to talk to one an­other as op­posed to be­ing tied to their cell­phones.

CARLA ALLEN

The vestibule where the ATM ma­chine is lo­cated in the Royal Bank in Yar­mouth was quite full last week dur­ing the cel­lu­lar dis­rup­tion. Not all ATMs worked at all banks.

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