Officials look to resolve cable issuesTwo incidents of cut fiber optic cable resulting in long distance phone service outages in Jamestown and the surrounding area have officials looking for answers.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Two incidents of cut fiber optic cable resulting in long distance phone service outages in Jamestown and the surrounding area have officials looking for answers.
“We’re still investigating the first cut,” said Brian Kalk, member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission. “In the past three years we’ve had a renewed emphasis on call before you dig and those things are usually easy to sort out.”
The first cut occurred at about 11:30 a.m. on June 14 when reportedly a construction crew severed the cable.
“Construction companies are required to call North Dakota One Call before digging,” Kalk said. “A construction company that does not do this can be subject of fines of from $500 to $5,000.”
North Dakota One Call would then mark areas with buried cables or pipes to be avoided during excavation.
Temporary repairs made to the line at that time were not buried and left above ground. This cable was damaged by farm equipment at about 1 p.m. June 23.
The location of the break also contributed to the problem.
“Because of the flooding in that area the cable was buried 12 feet deep,” said Carrie Amann, spokesperson for Century Link, owner of the fiber optic cable. “That is why it took up to six hours to repair in the original situation.”
Both breaks in the cable caused disruptions to 911 services in Stutsman, LaMoure and Barnes counties and the ability to make long distance calls from some landlines. The outage also affected Internet service with some businesses reporting they could not process credit card transactions.
“There doesn’t seem to be any redundancy,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager. “We’re at the end of the line and seem to be relying on one cable.”
Bergquist said the Jamestown area is connected by the fiber optic cable to Fargo, which serves as a hub of service. There is no major cable leading from Jamestown in any other direction.
Amann said Century Link monitors the system and works with authorities to maintain communications during outages.
“We actively work with emergency personnel to maintain emergency communications,” she said. “We notify the authorities and maintain communications.”
The system is continually monitored and breaks are identified immediately by the network management team.
Kalk said the PSC has been notified that permanent repairs to the cable are in the works.
“Century Link has informed us they are contracting for replacing that segment of cable,” he said. “Depending on the weather it should be done in two weeks.”
That would include burying the cable, he said.
Kalk said it may not be within the authority of the PSC to force a phone service provider to create redundancy within the system.
“We don’t directly regulate these operations of the phone companies,” he said.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com