No internet, no phone: Canada wildfires expose fragility of rural infrastructure

By Leyland Cecco
The Guardian
May 15, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada

Shortly before sunset on Friday, residents of Canada’s Yukon territory discovered their connection to the outside world had vanished. Internet access had gone. Mobile phones showed no signal. Landlines had failed. Chaos quickly set in. Electronic payments couldn’t be processed. In Whitehorse, the capital, most ATMs couldn’t function and the few that did were quickly drained of cash from panicked residents. City officials warned that the ability to call police, ambulance or fire services was non-existent. Across much of Canada’s north-west reaches, a similar spectacle played out after a pair of wildfires damaged two key fibre optic cables. The telecoms company hit by the outage blamed a “perfect storm” of events for the loss. But experts say the total loss of communications was a “cascading disaster” that exposes the broader weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the bare-bones infrastructure of the Canadian north. …In recent years, companies such as Starlink.

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