Havre Daily News Staff
The city seemed almost to come to a halt Wednesday as network connections, cellular and land line phone services were interrupted. An administrative assistant at Triangle Communications said Wednesday afternoon that Triangle crews had been dispatched to the site of the cutting of a fiber optic cable at a location between Loma and Fort Benton. Johnna Hoff, Qwest media relations, said Wednesday that numerous Qwest customers were impacted by the fiber optic cut with communications losses Wednesday, but that the line that went down did not belong to Qwest. "The fiber belongs to Triangle Telephone," Hoff said. "Qwest does lease facilities on that fiber and that's why Qwest customers were impacted, as well. When calling into that area, customers would have experienced a fast busy signal or no connection." Triangle this morning confirmed that in a press release. A contractor, working for Triangle near the line severed the fiber optic cable about 10:30 a.m., a spokesperson said. The contractor did not realize the cable had been severed. Havre Mayor Bob Rice said a Triangle employee told him the contractor was JKL Associates of Billings. The 911 services were restored in all areas by 7 p.m. and all other services were restored shortly thereafter, the release said. Triangle Communications, formerly known as Triangle Telephone Cooperative and Central Montana Communications, provides local telephone service to 18,000 access lines in 39 exchanges in 16 counties. A spokesperson for Bresnan Communications Havre office, which also lost its land line phone service, told the Havre Daily that the affected area spanned for miles and that he had heard the cut had been caused by a contractor. "Right now as far as I know, it is affecting everyone from Conrad over to Glasgow and down to Billings," he said Wednesday afternoon. The local Bresnan office's phone line was down, as well. Services identified as affected by the fiber optic cut included cell phone and land line phone service, Internet connection, intranet connections and banking services. Scott Morris, a public relations officer for Alltel, said he also understood the outage was due to a fiber cut in a main telephone system in Montana. Some Alltel customers had phone services, he said, but showed they were roaming, while other Alltel customers had no service. Verizon Wireless customers did not appear to be affected. Although phone and Internet services were interrupted, cable television, including digital, seemed to be working. "All the cable is fine," the Bresnan spokesman said. Telephone and network companies affected by the outage Wednesday included: Qwest, Nemont, Big Flat and Triangle Telephone, the Bresnan spokesman added. Some banks were affected by the outage, as well. "It was a long day," said U.S. Bank commercial billing representative Tiana Waite. "We had no access to anything. (Our system) went down around 9:30 a. m. and I think they fixed it until around 8 or 9 p.m." Representatives of Stockman and Independence banks said their communications had not been lost. "Our system was not affected I heard about it, but we were not impacted," said Chuck Wimmer, Stockman Bank branch manager. "We could get Internet access and send and receive e-mail." "We didn't really see that much change,” said Les Odegard, security officer for Independence Bank. "It affected Our Internet access, but we were able to continue serving our customers as usual." Other services affected were credit and debit card payments. First Street Kum & Go and Gary & Leo's Fresh Foods IGA were reported to have had difficulty in accepting these payments Wednesday. A spokesperson for Town Pump Food Stores said that they had difficulty, as well. The spokesperson said debit cards would not read at the pumps. Other functions seemed to work properly, she added. As of publication this morning, all services seemed to be restored.