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4 Hours Service Outage: Phones Go Off, ATMs Crash Throughout Eastern Canada

Around 11am yesterday at work, one of my colleagues went round asking if we had service on our phones. To my utmost shock, most of us didn’t, likewise internet service.

“For thousands of Nova Scotians, Friday was the day their phones went silent.

A damaged fibreoptic line in Quebec put parts of the east of Canada in digital darkness as mobile phone, text and data service were interrupted for more than four hours starting Friday morning. The outages primarily affected customers on the Bell network, including Bell, Telus, Virgin and Koodo.

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The service crash hit businesses and hampered emergency communications, airports and other services.

Flights were delayed at multiple airports, some consumers couldn’t use their debit and credit cards, and the TD bank said some branches in the region were “temporarily” closed.

In St. John’s, New Foundland and Labrador, Lauren Halliday said the outage came at a particularly bad time for her family.

“My sister is supposed to have a baby today or tomorrow so we were kind of sweating about that, making sure that she had a car to get to the hospital and stuff. And then I tried to make a few phone calls and nothing would go through,” she said Friday.

Rogers and Eastlink services were working, although Eastlink warned customers they might not be able to get through in all cases as outages were “impacting our network partners that may affect your ability to place calls.”

Halifax Stanfield airport said some flights were affected, and Air Canada said computer issues hit flights at multiple Canadian airports. WestJet said its Moncton call centre was “offline,” and asked customers to call later unless the matter was urgent.

The outage appeared to hamper emergency communications in some parts of the region, and people were advised to try non-emergency numbers if 911 didn’t work.

Businesses were also affected — from those who rely on debit and credit cards to buskers and small vendors using mobile payment services such as Square.

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Nova Scotia’s Emergency Measures Organization advised to try non-emergency numbers to contact emergency services if 911 doesn’t work. It also advised using a landline.

Cpl. Dal Hutchinson of the RCMP in Nova Scotia said its 911 service was working, depending on what mobile phone was being used to call in.

Officials in Halifax said emergency services were available, although some first responders had issues with their phones.

They said in a statement that the Halifax fire service told all volunteer firefighters to head to unstaffed fire stations “as soon as possible, to ensure smooth communication between our dispatch operators and individual stations as well as being on-hand to assist citizens who need emergency assistance.”

Emergency Health Services in Nova Scotia told all on-duty crews to return to their stations in a tweet.

Bell said the outage began at 10:45 a.m. AT, with service restored at 3 p.m “following rerouting and repair of network infrastructure.”

“The outage was caused by accidental damage to multiple fibre network links. Bell apologizes to our customers for the disruption.”

Telus spokesman Richard Gilhooley said his company’s services, which rely on Bell infrastructure, had also been restored.

The outage dominated social media in the region, with Twitter user Cody Neal joking: “I have no way of communicating with my wife about what we’re having (for) supper other than walking upstairs and asking.”

An Ontario Twitter user, Jordan MacKinnon, joked: “My thoughts and prayers are with those in Atlantic Canada, who are currently being forced to speak to each other like it’s 1994.”

Source: The Chronicle Herald

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