Severed fiber cable scuttles telecom service off Washington coast

CenturyLink believes an earthquake was to blame for the cable break.

CenturyLink reportedly has crews working on both ends of a severed fiber-optic cable responsible for service outages for the San Juan Islands of the Washington coast as of Tuesday, November 5.

The service provider believes an earthquake that hit the area three minutes before it received outage alarms was to blame for the cable break. The carrier apparently had trouble locating the fiber cable, which eventually turned up suspended along a rock face south of where it was originally placed. Meanwhile, it says that it has temporarily restored local, long distance, Internet, and 911 services thanks to cooperation from Orcas Power and Light Cooperative (OPALCO).

See also: Theft of copper, fiber cable leaves Yakima, WA homes and businesses without connectivity

Having found the cable, the company now has begun the process of fixing it. CenturyLink has assembled its own staff, plus a team of divers, three tug boats, two remote operating vessels, and two barges. The barges have cranes and splicing equipment. The team will reportedly assess the extent of damage to the cable, then position the splicing barge for placement of anchors. Once the barge is in place, splicing the new fiber to the severed lines will begin. Survey work has begun to identify where to lay the new cable.

"Typically a response effort of this magnitude takes over a month to develop; the fact that we were able to mobilize within the first 36 hours is amazing,” comments Tim Grigar, vice president and general manager of CenturyLink's western Washington market. “Restoring service is a top priority for CenturyLink, and we have pulled resources in from across the country to get these facilities up and running."


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