Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dis-connected from the world

The famous winds of the North coast have finally arrived, having apparently been redirected southbound the last three weeks or so and with their arrival came troubles for Telus and by way of location, CityWest.

Monday and Tuesday saw maddening slow internet speeds, non operating interac machines and in many instances an inability to make or receive a long distance call. The culprit was a problem with the Mount Hays relay tower which suffered a power surge sometime at the height of the nasty weather of Sunday night or Monday morning.

The recently completed fibre optic link between Prince Rupert and Terrace laid by CityWest apparently had no impact one way or the other on the problems of Telus (nor offered solutions for Rupertites), though considering internet service is down to possibly the slowest speeds seen in a while, you might wonder why that traffic couldn’t be re-routed along that corridor and what services are being used with that bit of technological wizardry.

For the current problems however, all fingers point towards Telus and their shaky platforms along the Northwest, from here to Prince George it seems we’re but a falling tree or heavy gust of wind away from isolation.

The Daily News had full details in the Tuesday edition.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Page one

Winds whipping up to 90 kilometres an hour Monday morning have damaged the Telus radio link on top of Mount Hays that connects Prince Rupert to the rest of the world, seriously slowing down Interac, long distance and internet service.

What that means is with only six shopping days left until Christmas, forget about pulling out the plastic, Commerce is on a cash only basis at a lot of businesses and people calling into the area with holiday greetings are less than likely to get through until the problem gets fixed, hopefully by this afternoon.

“We supply service to the community via radio link to Terrace,” said Sean Hall, spokesperson for Telus. “The site on Mount Hays failed early Monday. We dispatched a crew immediately to the site by four-by-four but they were turned back by road closures.

The weather is absolutely terrible in the area.”

Prince Rupert has been deluged with rain and then snow and then more rain with high winds during the past four days. Hall said the crew headed out this morning by snow cat with replacement equipment and hope to reach the top.

“If what they find is what we anticipate it’s going to be- some damage to the antenna up there – we should have everybody up by afternoon today. If they have to bring in extra equipment, it may be longer,” said Hall.

While any local traffic on networks run by CityWest was working, and CityWest long-distance was still working Monday, service in and out of the community on the Telus network was down to 25 percent of its normal capacity.

“We are doing what we can to get people in there and get service restored to normal as quickly as possible under some pretty miserable conditions,” said Hall.

“It’s really been a unique series of storms that has damaged our equipment up that way. We’ve never seen anything like this.”

This is the second time in less than a month that the Telus network has crashed. In late November, a loss of service affected 2,500 businesses and 50,000 Telus customers after a tree came down in Kitwanga, taking out both a BC Hydro and a Telus fibre-optic cable line and then a vehicle slammed into a pole, also near Kitwanga, causing another line to catch fire.

And Telus crews were scrambling in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island this weekend after storms cut power to a quarter of a million residents.

“It’s mostly stuff like this where we have had something blow into a piece of equipment and we are not able to gain access that is really what is causing us the most difficulty right now,” said Hall.

“We know we need to do repairs to service be we can’t get to it because of the weather.”


By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Page one

Telus technicians restored full long-distance service to Prince Rupert around noon yesterday.
Service was disrupted early Monday when a power surge to the Telus radio transmission site on Mount Hays burned out several pieces of equipment, said Shawn Hall, a spokesperson for Telus.
“Our guys got in there by snow cat, they left at first light,” said Hall.

“They found some equipment had been burned out by a power surge and replaced it. The problem was not the repairs, but actually getting to the site.”

Telus technicians were first dispatched Monday morning in four-by-fours but were unable to access the site because of the weather.

Hall said they suspect the power surge was caused by a storm that battered the region early Monday morning.

When the site was damaged, the Telus link to the community switched to a back-up system providing about 25 per cent of the capacity normally available for long-distance calling. Local calling was not affected.

“Telus thanks its customers for their understand, and apologizes for the inconvenience,” said Hall.

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