Landline phone users in Stutsman and Barnes counties had limited phone service for about 6 1/2 hours Thursday after CenturyLink’s fiber-optic line west of Valley City was cut.

Rachel Woodman, market development manager for CenturyLink, said a third-party company was doing some digging for another telecommunications company around 5:30 p.m. Thursday when the CenturyLink fiber-optic line was cut.

“We received a call from the telecommunications company about the cut and were able to get our technicians out to the scene in a short time,” Woodman said.

Service was restored at 12:06 a.m. Friday. Woodman said she didn’t have a specific number for how many people were affected by the service outage. She said many people in Stutsman and Barnes counties were affected.

CenturyLink sent out email notices to area media outlets about the disruption of service to alert people with landline phones that if they need to call 911 for an emergency, they should use a cellphone.

Marty Bower, central office manager of Dakota Central Telecommunications, said all 9,000 of its landline phone customers were affected by the service interruption.

“It (the service interruption) pretty much crippled us as far as incoming calls,” he said.

The good news for Stutsman County residents was the county’s 911 backup system worked the way it was supposed to, according to Stutsman County Emergency Manager Jerry Bergquist.

“We designed it (the 911 system) so if there was a cable cut, we have 911 out of Wahpeton (N.D.),” he said.

If a call coming into Stutsman County Communications - the county’s 911 system - can’t get through, the call is automatically routed to the Richland County Communications/911 center, then relayed back to Jamestown through the county’s Internet provider’s connections.

“We hadn’t had the need to use the (backup system) until yesterday (Thursday),” Bergquist said. “We proved last night it (spending the money on the backup system) was the right thing to do.”

Berquist said the service interruption created a unique situation because people with landline service through CenturyLink could call other CenturyLink customers, and Dakota Central Telecommunications’ landline phone customers could call each other, but a CenturyLink user couldn’t call a Dakota Central Telecommunications user or vice-versa.

“We couldn’t make any long-distance calls last night (out of Stutsman County Communications), but we could talk with customers from both companies,” Bergquist said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

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