Service restored following widespread cellphone outages in Atlantic Canada

Click to play video: 'Cellphone outages cause problems across Atlantic Canada' Cellphone outages cause problems across Atlantic Canada
WATCH: A cut fibre cable resulted in people across Atlantic Canada to lose cellular reception. Steve Silva reports on how Halifax and New Brunswick dealt with being cut off – Aug 4, 2017

Service has been restored in Atlantic Canada following widespread cellphone, landline and other telecom service issues on Friday.

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In a tweet Friday evening, Bell said the outages were “extraordinary situations” as a result of two major fibre links cut “by 3rd party construction work.”

Earlier in the day, Bell said “accidental cable damage” was the culprit, while Telus said a “cut cable” was to blame.

“A cut cable has been identified as the root cause of the network outage, affecting approximately 885 LTE cell sites throughout New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island,” a service alert on the Telus website stated.

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“Technicians are on-site, and working towards restoring services as quickly as possible.”

Bell, Koodo, Virgin Mobile and Telus issues began Friday morning, with reports of service outages in PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

The service providers dealing with the issues all use the same network. Rogers, Fido and Freedom wireless do not; their service was unaffected.

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In a statement to Global News Friday morning, Bell confirmed a service outage was affecting “some regions in the Atlantic provinces.”

“Landline, cellular and Internet services may be impacted. Our teams are working to re-establish service as soon as possible,” read the Bell statement.

Earlier Friday, Telus posted online a “service interruption” alert for voice, text messaging and data services on mobile devices in the Maritime provinces.

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The hours-long service outage impacted some flights in the region; travellers were urged to check their flight status.

Long lines formed at the Halifax airport amid the outage. Air Canada was forced to resort to manually checking in passengers at some of the region’s airports due to “ongoing computer problems,” and offered to waive change fees for local travellers due to the outage.

WestJet’s Moncton contact centre also went offline Friday, with the carrier warning that “wait times are high.”

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Local emergency services reported issues communicating with the public as well as personnel.

In a tweet, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said a “major phone problem” was preventing some people from contacting 911 through both cellphones and landlines, and provided a list of other emergency phone numbers.

The St. John’s Regional Fire Department advised people to avoid using their landlines except in the case of an emergency, to avoid overloading the system.

While 911 service was working in Nova Scotia, customers were asked to use landlines to make calls to the emergency line.

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Emergency Health Services (EHS) Nova Scotia issued an urgent message for all on-duty crews to immediately return to their stations amid a “province-wide communications outage.”

Halifax Fire began using a back-up paging service to communicate with crews, and requested that all available volunteer firefighters report to unstaffed stations immediately. Fire officials urged people to try to call 911 if they were in need of help, and to make their way to a station if they couldn’t get through.

Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office (EMO) activated its Provincial Coordination Centre to provide support to emergency service providers. The EMO encouraged residents to pull together and “please check on your neighbours.”

Customers voiced their frustrations online to providers such as Telus and Bell throughout the day, with social media feeds filling with concerns over lack of service.

SOUND OFF: How are you being impacted by the service outage? 

Note: We may use your response in this or other stories. While we may contact you to follow up we won’t publish your contact info.

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— With Files from Alexander Quon and Sean Previl.

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