Losing the outside link
Morning long-distance interruption

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( Jun 02/00) - Northerners trying to reach out and touch someone Monday morning discovered some long distance services temporarily out of order.

From 7:05 a.m. to 9:47 a.m. NWT residents could not make operator-assisted long distance, toll-free or overseas phone calls or connect to Internet sites outside the territories, reported NorthwesTel director of network operations Mike Dittrich.

"One thing worth noting is direct dial long distance ... was not affected because we do have re-routing within our network," said Dittrich.

Pagers and cell phones in Hay River and Yellowknife were also affected by the interruption.

The problem was caused by an equipment failure on a major transmission system between Fort Nelson and Fort Simpson, Dittrich said.

"We had a technician contacted and dispatched within three minutes," said Dittrich.

"It's the drive time to actually get to the site (that takes the most time). We have excellent remote capabilities to restore these networks, but when it's a hard equipment failure like this we physically need to get somebody on site to restore service."

The technicians who fixed the problem were dispatched out of Fort Nelson.

The few Yellowknife businesses polled said the interruption had little or no effect.

SSI Micro manager Allan Ross said the outage temporarily halted the relay of all e-mail coming and going between here and the south.

"Once the link was restored the server that's been sitting there holding it all will dump it all up to them here," said Ross. "There's nothing lost."

Dittrich said Interac machines at local businesses may have also been downed during the service outage, depending on the particular configuration of the connection. Those relying on toll-free, long-distance connections would not have worked.

Wal-Mart's debit card machines were unaffected, said manager Rod Olmstead.

Bank of Nova Scotia branch manager Kerri Wilkinson said there was little or no problems with banking operations in the morning.

"We didn't even notice until you told me that's what it was," said Wilkinson.