News Column

Lines down, and so was the Internet

July 17, 2014

By Ralph Bartholdt And Elaine Williams, Lewiston Tribune, Idaho



July 17--A partially raised box on a dump truck inadvertently snagged fiber-optic lines Wednesday on Snake River Avenue, causing dropped calls and Internet disruption throughout the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.

Nez Perce County deputies and Lewiston police responded at 1:10 p.m. to the area near ATK Ammunition and the Southway Bridge, where a raised box on a southbound Lewiston Pre-Mix Concrete truck hooked lines, tearing them down. The accident caused hours of service disruption to Inland Cellular customers as well as traffic delays in the immediate area, according to Lewiston police.

"It knocked down power lines and telephone lines and blocked one lane of traffic," Lewiston Deputy Police Chief Roger Lanier said.

Nez Perce County Sheriff's Cpl. Levi Frary said line crews replaced the lines, raising them higher to accommodate truck traffic. He said no citations were issued.

The accident cut service to lines operated by telecommunications and Internet service provider XO Communications, dropping services to many commercial customers, including the Lewiston Tribune. The company acknowledged it was having an issue in Lewiston, but declined to provide additional details such as the extent of the outage or when it might be repaired.

"I know people are scrambling," said Joseph Abraham, Northwest regional manager for XO Communications in Seattle. "I know we're working on it now."

Inland Cellular expected regular service to resume today, said Director of Business Strategies Chip Damato.

The accident apparently damaged the Lewiston fiber loop that acts as a high-tech highway, Damato said, enabling people to make phone calls, transmit data or access the Internet.

Inland Cellular customers could call each other, but weren't always able to make connections if they were trying to reach someone who had a different service provider, Damato said.

Nez Perce County Sheriff's Office call lines were down for several hours following the accident, as were similar fire and police lines in Clarkston and Asotin County, although 911 lines remained operational.

Cellphones at the Lewiston Police Department, an Inland Cellular subscriber, didn't work at full capacity Wednesday afternoon and left some officers without the most common mode of communication.

Lewiston interim Fire Chief Travis Myklebust said he was working on a department presentation on how to manage Internet outages when the lines went down.

"All our reports are web-based," Myklebust said. "Our crews were unable to complete fire and patient care reports."

The department uses Sprint as its cellphone carrier, so communication wasn't totally disrupted.

"It's funny how often we rely on Internet to do our job," he said.

Bartholdt can be contacted at rbartholdt@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2275.

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Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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(c)2014 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)

Visit the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho) at www.lmtribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Lewiston Morning Tribune (ID)


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