Home Internet Suspected copper theft cuts internet, phone for thousands in Calgary

Suspected copper theft cuts internet, phone for thousands in Calgary

Outages affect approximately 5,000 customers across multiple services including internet, business internet, phone, business phone, TV, and more according to Rogers

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Several north Calgary communities were without Rogers (previously Shaw) internet and phone service after vandals cut a fibre line early Tuesday in what the communications provider described as suspected copper wire theft — the second incident of its kind in less than a month.

Outages affected approximately 5,000 customers across multiple services including internet, business internet, phone, business phone, TV and more, according to Rogers.

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Affected customers were in the Balmoral, Brentwood, Bridgeland-Riverside, Capitol Hill, Charleswood, Collingwood, Crescent Heights, Hillhurst, Mayfair, Mountview, Mount Pleasant, North Haven, Renfrew, Rosemont, Sunnyside and Tuxedo Park areas, according to the Rogers service outage page.

The interruptions are due to a fibre cut caused by vandalism and suspected theft of copper wire, said Rogers in an emailed statement to Postmedia.

“We have contacted local authorities and have technical teams on-site, working to restore services as soon as possible,” said Rogers, which merged with Shaw to become its parent company last year.

In an emailed statement CPS said they responded to reports of vandalism to fibreoptic cables around 6 a.m. Tuesday, and the investigation is ongoing.

“Outages due to vandalism can also take 3-4 times longer to repair than any other outage types due to extent of damage and associated repairs,” Rogers said.

The update noted that repairing a damaged fibre line can take between 8 to 12 hours. The initial outage notice was issued at 5:20 a.m. Tuesday.

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 Are you a Rogers, together with Shaw, customer hit by today’s outage? Tell us how it’s affecting you by contacting [email protected].

Vandalism related outages on the rise

A separate outage earlier in May, which lasted the better part of a day, was also attributed to attempted copper theft and caused widespread disruptions for thousands of Calgarians.

As of Tuesday, CPS said there are no charges related to the May 6 incident, and the investigation remains underway.

Vandalism-related outages are increasing year over year at a rapid pace, read the emailed statement from Rogers. The company has experienced a four-fold to five-fold increase in outages due to vandalism since 2022.

Vandalism and attempted copper theft is an issue across the telecommunications industry, according to a May 13 call to action by the Canadian Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (CSTAC).

The organization states that access to reliable telecommunications services is essential for Canadians.

“As part of Canada’s critical infrastructure, telecommunication networks are vital to the public’s health, safety, security and economic well-being,” said CSTAC.

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“These acts are not victimless crimes and can have a serious impact on public health and safety. They disrupt emergency 9-1-1 and fire services, and adversely affect hospitals, schools and businesses,” read the notice.

Repair crews fix damaged Rogers fibre optic cables that were cut by copper thieves
Repair crews work on fixing damaged Rogers fibre optic cables that were cut from overhead poles along Renfrew Drive by copper thieves on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.Gavin Young/Postmedia Gavin Young/Postmedia

Damage to a Telus cable in Calgary in 2023 caused by thieves left 2,000 people without access to voice, internet or TV services for multiple days, CSTAC said.

In the first few months of 2024, Telus had nine cable theft and vandalism events, according to CSTAC. “January saw a 100 per cent increase in incidents year-over-year with a 49 per cent increase in outage duration.”

On average, it takes 10 to 12 hours after an incident for telecommunications providers to fully restore services to their customers, though in some cases it takes significantly longer, particularly for complex repairs in hard-to-access locations, said the committee.

“There have been instances where entire communities were left without telephone, wireless and internet services for extended periods until repairs were completed.”

The CSTAC is encouraging Canadians to report crimes or suspicious activities targeting telecommunications infrastructure to law enforcement.

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