Bell says Atlantic Canada service outage was the result of a ‘perfect storm’ of cable cuts

Bell sign

Bell Aliant, the telecommunication giant’s Atlantic Canada division, says recent service outages that affected its East Coast customers were the result of a “perfect storm” of construction crews not checking where to dig.

The August 4th incident took down landline, cellphone and internet services for many customers in Atlantic Canada. Those with Koodo, Telus and Virgin also reported service interruptions, as the carriers share network towers with Bell in this region.

In an e-mail to The National Post, Bell spokesman Nathan Gibson says the first cut to fibre network lines was made by highway construction crew near Drummondville, Québec.

However, according to Gibson, service was only significantly impacted when a logging company made a second major cut near Richibucto, New Brunswick in a heavily forested location. Because of the area in which this occurred, Gibson says it was difficult for repair crews to locate the issue and bring in the necessary equipment to fix it.

“Cuts to two major fibre routes one after the other, and one in a location [New Brunswick] that was exceptionally difficult to locate and repair.”

“I’d note again the unique and perfect storm nature of this situation: cuts to two major fibre routes one after the other, and one in a location [New Brunswick] that was exceptionally difficult to locate and repair,” Gibson said.

He added that these mistakes can happen when crews don’t follow Bell’s location guides or “simply go ahead with their work without asking” for locations. “We manage literally hundreds of thousands of construction requests for fibre locates across Canada each year, yet construction cuts continue to rival severe weather as the primary reason for service outages,” Gibson said in the e-mail.

For some, the Bell incident may raise concerns about citizens being able to reach emergency services during times out network outages. With this in mind, Celine Legault, a spokeswoman for the CRTC, told The Post in an e-mail that the federal regulator has requested a detailed explanation for the outage from Bell, including how citizens can contact emergency services during this time.

However, Legault said this report may not be released to the public. “The information that Bell will provide may be sensitive in nature with respect to safeguarding telecommunications networks in Canada, so it may not be appropriate to disclose it publicly,” she wrote in the email. “The CRTC will assess this information when it is received to determine if next steps are required. The CRTC is committed to the safety and health of Canadians by supporting the reliability and resiliency of our telecommunications networks.”

Source: The National Post