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Northwestel customers in Yellowknife and surrounding areas had a major disruption in services on July 13.
NNSL file photo

After internet and cellphone service went out in Yellowknife and surrounding communities for most of Saturday, Northwestel is confirming the RCMP is investigating.

“The outage was due to damage to fibre infrastructure leading into Yellowknife,” said Andrew Anderson, director of communications with NorthwesTel. “We have referred the investigation to the RCMP and we will not be commenting on that until the investigation is complete.”

The disruptions began in the early morning of July 13 and mostly affected the communities of Yellowknife, Whati and Behchoko, though Anderson could not disclose how many customers were impacted.

“We were able to do temporary repairs on the fibre and restored service yesterday afternoon to customers,” said Anderson. “Service was restored at approximately four or five o’clock.”

The Folk on the Rocks music festival got off to a rocky start with the telecommunications disruptions affecting sales and on-site broadcasting.

The 2019 “Folk Rocks” sign near Long Lake at the Folk on the Rocks festival site.
Brett McGarry/NNSL photo

“It’s definitely been a struggle,” said Sarah Frey, merchandiser manager at Folk on the Rocks.

“We’re trying to go paperless and digital so here at (the merchandise) table so it’s been a struggle but we’re using the Square payment service and it caches everything in the system so when it comes back online everything will finance,” she said during the outage.

“Our iPad and computers were having a lot of difficulty with connection,” said Alexia D’ast-ous, a volunteer at the ticket booth, during the outage. “We have a list of people who had printed tickets we could not scan so we can look them up later and put them in manually.”

Radio Taiga, Yellowknife’s French language station, was unable to broadcast their segments live from the Folk site.

“We are unable to broadcast live at the moment but we will be recording our interviews and segments and will play them at a later date,” said Simon-Olivier Gagnon, a reporter with Raido Taiga.

Sarah Pruys, a reporter with Cabin Radio, said the station was able to broadcast during the day, but residents in affected areas could not tune on Saturday.

Now that services have been restored, broadcasting and digital transactions are working normally at the festival.

“We are thankful to everyone who has been so patient with us,” said Frey

Yellowknifer has reached out to the RCMP for comment but had not heard back by Sunday afternoon.

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Brett McGarry

Brett McGarry came to Yellowknife in early 2019 after graduating from Humber College with an advanced diploma in journalism. After covering city council and local business as a reporter, Brett is now an...