Internet and telephone outage affects 1,500
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | October 26, 2017
It took Bell workers three days to restore Internet and phone service to 1,500 customers affected by an outage in the Haliburton area last week.
The disruption started on the afternoon of Oct. 17 when a company digging in the area of Highland Street and Lake Avenue cut several major cables, said Vanessa Damha, senior manager of media relations for Bell.
Although Damha wouldn’t name the company that cut the cables, North Frontenac Telephone Company (NFTC) was doing work in the area at the time. Grant Roughley, the company’s vice president, hasn’t returned phone messages and emails seeking comment.
“We typically do not name third-party companies that interfere with our infrastructure, as with this cable cut, but we do pursue them directly to recoup damages,” said Damha.
When asked about the cost to fix the damage, she said Bell would be addressing it privately with the company responsible.
With the recent outage, emergency calls to 911 couldn’t be made from landlines. Dysart’s emergency committee met to ensure they had all the bases covered, said Reeve Murray Fearrey.
“It wasn’t a big exercise, but it was a good gathering of the minds,” he said.
Dysart fire Chief Mike Iles informed residents of the outage and notices were put up at the post office.
Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) issued a “Code Grey” Oct. 18. Its aim is to “coordinate a safe and effective response when the facility experiences a loss of utilities,” states a press release.
Its main phone line was working because of “internal and external efforts.” Calls were initially rerouted to a cell phone and then to the Minden hospital.
“I am pleased to say that due to the immediate and comprehensive response of our IT team and our leadership team, as well as collaboration with our community partners, we did not experience any disruptions in patient care during the interruption in telephone services,” said Carolyn Plummer, president and CEO of HHHS.
There was a period when they were unsure if the ambulance patch phone at the Haliburton hospital was working. An ambulance was stationed there so staff could be informed of any incoming ambulances via their radio system, explained Plummer. It stayed there until they knew the patch phone was working properly.
Community Support Services, a division of HHHS, reached out to its clients, seniors and people with disabilities during the disruption to ensure they were safe. The outage had minimal financial impact on the organization, said Plummer.
It didn’t affect the Haliburton Highlands OPP, said Const. Dianna Dauphinee. The OPP can use social media to inform the public about issues that impact service delivery, she said.
Todd’s Independent Grocer was unable to process debit and credit card transactions for four hours. Fortunately, they were able to reconnect after getting a wireless modem from their support team.
Store owner Steve Todd estimated a $3-4,000 loss in revenue.
The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce didn’t receive any calls from its members.
Some of the affected customers were in Ingoldsby.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.