Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Public Safety Jeopardized as Aliant’s Network Damaged
– Public safety was placed in jeopardy last evening as Aliant’s telecommunications network was intentionally damaged in Newfoundland & Labrador and in Nova Scotia. The damage to Aliant’s network was clearly deliberate, reckless in nature and compromised public safety.
Last evening, two fibre optic cables were deliberately cut in Newfoundland & Labrador, which resulted in loss of service for close to 250,000 customers living on the Avalon Peninsula, including St. John’s and the surrounding communities, and in some areas of the West Coast of the province. These customers were unable to access long-distance, cellular, Internet and data services and people from outside the province were unable to make contact with these areas. Aliant employees worked throughout the night to fully restore services.
Aliant’s Chief Operating Officer Frank Fagan said, “It is very disturbing that people would conspire to deliberately cut off hundreds of thousands of citizens from emergency services. This is extremely alarming to us. We have informed the RCMP and local law enforcement who are treating this very seriously and they are investigating fully.”
Mr. Fagan continued, “Our network has been designed and built to be exceedingly reliable, with redundant capabilities that preserve telecommunications services in the infrequent event of network problems due to weather, construction and other accidents. The cuts of last night were not accidents, but deliberate acts of sabotage by individuals who clearly knew where these cables were located and their importance to our network.”
Aliant ensures the reliability of its network in a number of ways, including redundant systems, battery and generator backups, network alarms and 7/24 network monitoring. In Newfoundland & Labrador, both the main network fibre optic cable and the backup cable were intentionally severed. The fibre cables that were damaged last evening were underground and aboveground cables. The underground cables were buried in enclosures several feet underground. They were further protected by wooden covers, gravel and a large, heavy boulder. The aboveground cable is located at the top of a 20-foot pole and would also take significant time and knowledge to access.
The telecommunications network is critical to providing essential services, confirmed Karl Smith, President and CEO of Newfoundland Power Inc. "I cannot express strongly enough the importance that Aliant's telecommunications network plays in our ability to deliver safe, reliable electrical service to the people of this province," said Mr. Smith. "Had there been any type of urgent situation overnight such as a fire, downed power lines or a power outage, the safety of our employees, customers and the general public could have been put at serious risk and our ability to respond effectively compromised."
In Nova Scotia, 911 and long-distance service to approximately 5,300 customers in the Eastern Shore area of the province were affected by cuts to a fibre cable. Service has been restored fully in this area as well. Last evening’s cable cuts add to the more than 20 suspicious network incidents that have taken place over the course of this labour disruption. Aliant is very concerned about the impact of these actions on public safety and remains committed to delivering the highest level of customer service possible during this time.
Aliant Communications & Public Affairs