Cut fiber-optic cable causes Summit County cell outage
Cell service went down for the fourth time since the beginning of September after a fiber-optic cable was cut by Colorado Department of Transportation contractors near Idaho Springs. The outage affected local schools, police and businesses for more than four hours as Comcast crews scrambled to repair the fiber.
The outage started around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and service was restored around 5:30 that evening.
“The good news in this particular situation is that we were able to repair the fiber more quickly,” said Cindy Parsons, a spokeswoman for Comcast. “Our fiber crews work so diligently to make sure they can repair these cuts as quickly as possible.”
The fiber-optic cable, which is owned by Comcast — but also provides service for carriers Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile — affects coverage throughout the Interstate 70 mountain corridor. With no redundant cable paths to maintain service in the event of an outage, one cut cable can cause an outage across the county.
“It could be an increased level of activity at this time. Everyone’s trying to get things done before the snow flies,” Parsons said. “We are working closely with (CDOT) to ensure we avoid this happening again in the future.”
Amy Ford, communications director with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said CDOT would work with the contractor to look into potential discrepancies in marked lines in plans and in the field to ensure no lines are cut in the future.
“Something else is going on; it wasn’t just a one-time occurrence. We’re trying to look at the books there,” she said. “It definitely needs to be addressed immediately. … We’re in the process of evaluating what the heck is going on there.”
Crews are currently working to install an express lane on I-70 from Empire to Idaho Springs and are expected to finish the paving process over the next several weeks.
Several local businesses, telecommuters and on-call responders have been affected by the outages over the course of the last two months.
With the Summit County School District phone lines connected to Comcast, schools also reported a loss of service during three of the recent outages. While the school has an emergency line for backup, the service loss has left many parents frustrated.
“It’s a concern while communications are down between parents and schools, schools and the community,” said Julie McCluskie, director of communications and community engagement. “The first time, we just thought it was a one-time event.”
The outages also affected on-call medical staff, who have moved from using pagers to cell phones to respond to emergencies.
“We’re having to go back to that,” said Carolyn Holland, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) for St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.
“I got a landline because I didn’t want to miss someone having emergency surgery or an epidural,” she said, adding that she got the landline last month after having lived without one for 10 years. “It affects everybody’s work. We can’t be disconnected.”
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