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Public safety jeopardized as Aliant’s network damaged

Public safety was placed in jeopardy earlier this week when Aliant Inc.'s telecommunications network was intentiona...

June 10, 2004  

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Public safety was placed in jeopardy earlier this week when Aliant Inc.’s telecommunications network was intentionally damaged in Newfoundland & Labrador and in Nova Scotia.

The company says the damage was clearly deliberate, reckless in nature and compromised public safety.

On Tuesday, two fiber optic cables were 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.

“It is very disturbing that people would conspire to deliberately cut off hundreds of thousands of citizens from emergency services,” said Frank Fagan, Aliant’s chief operating officer. “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.

“The cuts were not accidents, but deliberate acts of sabotage by individuals who clearly knew where these cables were located and their importance to our network.”

In Newfoundland & Labrador, both the main network fiber optic cable and the backup cable were intentionally severed. The fiber cables that were damaged were underground and aboveground cables.

The company says 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, says Aliant.