After finding out why so many local residents, visitors, local businesses, government offices, and others lost their mobile phone and Internet outage on, first, Tuesday, August 25th (See UPDATE Aug. 27, 2020: Explanation August 25the Outage…), only for it to happen again a second time, two days later, Sierra Wave went looking for the cause for the second outage on Thursday, August 27.
Why is it important? You deserve to know why your phone and Internet service is not working. Paying for mobile phone and Internet services is not cheap. Even most landline phones are now VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), so if the Internet goes out, so do they.
Outages hurt businesses. Some businesses have to close unless they can do cash-transactions or are willing to accept bank checks. You cannot use an ATM as it is linked to the Internet. As important, many people rely on their computers to work and need to be online to do so. Several people told Sierra Wave that they had to leave work and go home, where in many instances, they could not use their phones or Internet because service was out there as well.
This biggest concern of a cell service and Internet outage has to do with emergency response services. Emergency 9-1-1 calls cannot get through to dispatchers for help, whether it’s the police services, the fire department or an ambulance. The delay in receiving help may literally boil down to life or death in some situations.
The first outage on Tuesday last week was caused by Caltrans crew digging a hole for some posts down in Inyokern, where they inadvertently severed a fiber-optic line. The incident of Thursday turned out to be very similar, except that this time it was a municipal crew in Ridgecrest, digging a ditch, who severed Frontier Communications’ fiber-optic line.
Following is a message from Javier Mendoza, Vice President, Corporate Communications and External Affairs with Frontier Communications Corporation:
This was another contractor that damaged a fiber optic cable. Here are details. Will appreciate you including the Call 811 reminder to any party that is conducting excavation activity near buried lines. Thank you.
- Thursday, August 27, Frontier Communication s crews responded to reports of a service disruption in the Ridgecrest area and discovered that a third-party contractor working on a municipal project —not affiliated with Frontier— cut a Frontier fiber-optic cable southeast of Ridgecrest. The damage was extensive and disrupted of service for Frontier customers in Ridgecrest, Bishop, Bridgeport and other surrounding areas. The disruption also affected 911 services and the wireless carriers served by our network. Frontier crews responded, worked diligently to repair the damage and restored service by 10 p.m.
- We thank our customers and the communities we serve for their patience as our team worked to restore service.
- Frontier reminds contractors, residents and business owners that by law, they must call 811 and have underground line locations marked before they dig in the yard or at construction sites. Calling 811 or Underground Service Alert will help avoid damage to unseen lines while digging and prevent such service interruptions.
Sierra Wave thanks Mr. Mendoza. He has been very cooperative in investigating and then answering our questions about these outages.
The outages do raise some questions about the Digital 395 Project, that was sold as something that would prevent what happened last Tuesday and Thursday. There is supposed to be a redundancy built into the system so that when the fiber-optic cable is damaged, it can be rerouted without loss of service. That clearly is not happening and our local officials should be looking into why this is happening and what can be done about it.
Another concern is, why can’t the service providers at minimum alert local news media, especially radio stations, so that news of the outage can be reported? We are already dealing with a pandemic, wildfires, poor air quality, businesses shut down, and coping with a lot of stress as a result. Our communities should not have to be worrying about mobile and Internet services going out as well.