Telephone outage due to underwater cable | update

Since the early morning hours of Nov. 5, there has been a widespread phone service outage affecting the San Juan Islands. There is local phone service within each island, but island to island and long distance is out. The outage is affecting 911 service from Lopez, Shaw and Orcas to dispatch on Friday Harbor.

For Friday Harbor residents, there is also no cell coverage or internet service.

The outage is due to problem with the underwater cable between Lopez and San Juan Islands. No ETA for return of service, but this is a significant repair that will require specialized equipment and personnel to fix. OPALCO has a robust data communications infrastructure installed across the county to serve our electrical distribution system and is making those resources available to aid its fellow utility.

Centurylink issued the following statement:

A fiber optic cable has been cut underwater between Lopez and San Juan Islands impacting CenturyLink services, including 911 services, throughout the islands. 911 services on San Juan Island have been rerouted to the local 911 center. Customers are able to access the Internet on all islands with the exception of San Juan Island. Because of the nature of the damage it is difficult to estimate a time of restoral. CenturyLink is working to restore services as soon as possible.

To access 911, call the following numbers:

Lopez Island: 468-2991

Orcas Island: 376-2331

Shaw Island: 468-2991

San Juan Island's 911 is still operational.

For those who rely on Life Alert or Medic Alert, those will likely not work in the event of an emergency. Most life alert systems route via the phone line to an off-island call center, making that connection impossible at present. The Orcas Senior Center is asking who anyone who uses a personal emergency paging device to call 376-2677. Staff will work on a case by case basis to develop a contact plan to assist in ensuring people remain safe during this time.

News from Sen. Kevin Ranker

"It is confirmed that a deep water offshore cable was completely severed. CenturyLink has divers and an ROV (Remotely operated vehicle) on scene. The ultimate goal will be to replace the entire 14,000′ cable, but locating that length of fiber-optic cable will take time. In the meantime two more immediate actions are underway. First, CenturyLink is working with OPALCO to do a short term Ethernet fix so that our entire county would have 911 availability as soon as possible – maybe as soon as late today. Secondly, CenturyLink has identified 6,000 feet of cable that could be used as a temporary fix that would give all county residents all services.

Jeff MorrisKris Lytton and I will continue to do everything in our power to help address this crisis. To this end, last night Jeff and I had a lengthy conversation regarding what steps need to be taken to create the necessary redundancy so that when this sort of situation happens again, it does not cause a complete disruption in services. All three of us will continue this conversation.

As a final point I must add that we are all incredibly lucky to have Rep. Jeff Morris representing us. He is a national leader on energy and telecommunications. He understands the technology and industry and has decades old personal and professional relationships with key individuals. His leadership the past 24hours has been tremendous."

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