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Fibre optic cable nears completion
Redundant cable will help NorthwesTel provide consistent service

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 24, 2011

TTHENAAGO/NAHANNI BUTTE - NorthwesTel is nearing completion of a fibre optic cable loop that will ensure the continuation of communication services in the event a cable is cut.

Work began last spring on a $9.2 million section of buried fibre optic cable extending from Northwes-Tel's Poplar microwave site, located south of Checkpoint on the Liard Highway, to the junction of that highway and the Alaska highway in British Columbia.

Work on the section is expected to be completed this spring, said Sunny Patch, the company's corporate communication's manager.

When it is finished the section will be the last section of a redundancy loop connecting fibre optic lines that run south out of the Yukon to those that run south out of the NWT. If a cable is cut south of Fort Nelson or High Level - outside of NorthwesTel's operating area - the company will have the option of diverting traffic through the loop so a degree of service can be maintained, Patch said.

Fibre optic cables carry most of NorthwesTel's services including cellular data, such as texts or e-mails, Internet data and land-based telephone lines. Outages have happened in the past as a result of damaged cables.

The cables, which are buried, are usually damaged by digging done along the sides of the roads. Last summer NorthwesTel had service outages in the NWT on three separate occasions because of cables that were damaged in Alberta, outside of the company's operating area.

The new cable, which runs along Highway 7 past Nahanni Butte and Fort Liard, will not bring any service changes to customers along the route, Patch said.

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